1 Corinthians 16

1c16.jpgGreetings!

The Collection for God’s People

16     Now about the collection for God’s people: Do what I told the Galatian churches to do. 2 On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with his income, saving it up, so that when I come no collections will have to be made. 3 Then, when I arrive, I will give letters of introduction to the men you approve and send them with your gift to Jerusalem. 4 If it seems advisable for me to go also, they will accompany me.

Paul writes a lot about giving but doesn’t specifically mention tithing. He does mention giving in proportion to one’s income, and in 2 Corinthians 9 he specifically says to give what you have decided in your heart to give, and not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. If he meant “10%” he would have just said so.

Some might use that as an excuse not to give 10%, but I think we should challenge ourselves to willingly and cheerfully give that much and more. Most in the U.S. are in the richest 2% of people who have ever lived, and God expected the poorest Israelite to tithe. I do not say that to make someone feel guilty, but to make them think about how much they might enjoy giving to their church and to other legitimate ministries that meet people’s physical and spiritual needs. We’ll have all of eternity to consider how we used the money God gave us in this short life.

Personal Requests

5 After I go through Macedonia, I will come to you—for I will be going through Macedonia. 6 Perhaps I will stay with you awhile, or even spend the winter, so that you can help me on my journey, wherever I go. 7 I do not want to see you now and make only a passing visit; I hope to spend some time with you, if the Lord permits. 8 But I will stay on at Ephesus until Pentecost, 9 because a great door for effective work has opened to me, and there are many who oppose me.

10 If Timothy comes, see to it that he has nothing to fear while he is with you, for he is carrying on the work of the Lord, just as I am. 11 No one, then, should refuse to accept him. Send him on his way in peace so that he may return to me. I am expecting him along with the brothers.

12 Now about our brother Apollos: I strongly urged him to go to you with the brothers. He was quite unwilling to go now, but he will go when he has the opportunity.

13 Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong. 14 Do everything in love.

 I assume that meant “agape” love, the highest form of love where we put the interests of others above our own interests. That kind of love may mean involve tough messages, not patronizing, indulgent love.

15 You know that the household of Stephanas were the first converts in Achaia, and they have devoted themselves to the service of the saints. I urge you, brothers, 16 to submit to such as these and to everyone who joins in the work, and labors at it. 17 I was glad when Stephanas, Fortunatus and Achaicus arrived, because they have supplied what was lacking from you. 18 For they refreshed my spirit and yours also. Such men deserve recognition.

Final Greetings

19 The churches in the province of Asia send you greetings. Aquila and Priscilla greet you warmly in the Lord, and so does the church that meets at their house. 20 All the brothers here send you greetings. Greet one another with a holy kiss.

21 I, Paul, write this greeting in my own hand.

22 If anyone does not love the Lord—a curse be on him. Come, O Lord!

23 The grace of the Lord Jesus be with you.

24 My love to all of you in Christ Jesus. Amen.

The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

 

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1 Corinthians 15

1c15.jpgGreetings!

The Resurrection of Christ

15     Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. 2 By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.

This is a crucial chapter.  Paul reminds them of the basic Gospel message and he makes it clear that if you don’t hold to it your belief is in vain, and that if Jesus didn’t really rise from the dead that our faith is meaningless.

3 For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. 6 After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, 8 and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.

9 For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them—yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me. 11 Whether, then, it was I or they, this is what we preach, and this is what you believed.

Paul reminds them of how he persecuted the church before becoming a believer.  He accurately states how hard he worked, but gives credit to God by whose grace he accomplished what he did.

The Resurrection of the Dead

12 But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14 And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. 15 More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. 19 If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men.

Some “Christians” deny the physical resurrection, but this passage couldn’t be more clear: If Jesus didn’t physically rise from the dead then our faith is in vain.

20 But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. 22 For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. 23 But each in his own turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him. 24 Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. 25 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy to be destroyed is death. 27 For he “has put everything under his feet.” Now when it says that “everything” has been put under him, it is clear that this does not include God himself, who put everything under Christ. 28 When he has done this, then the Son himself will be made subject to him who put everything under him, so that God may be all in all.

29 Now if there is no resurrection, what will those do who are baptized for the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why are people baptized for them? 30 And as for us, why do we endanger ourselves every hour? 31 I die every day—I mean that, brothers—just as surely as I glory over you in Christ Jesus our Lord. 32 If I fought wild beasts in Ephesus for merely human reasons, what have I gained? If the dead are not raised,

“Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.”

Paul is not promoting baptism for the dead, a false teaching of Mormonism.  As Hebrews 9:27 says, “Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment,” we do not get a second chance to accept Christ after we die and we do cannot be saved by what another person does for us before or after we die.  Paul is merely using this as an example.  If you believe the false teaching in baptism for the dead, then you should believe in a physical resurrection.  Note that Paul says “what will those do who are baptized for the dead” and not “what will we do . . .”  Paul did not believe in baptism for the dead.

33 Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.” 34 Come back to your senses as you ought, and stop sinning; for there are some who are ignorant of God—I say this to your shame.

Verse 33 is a powerful and timeless lesson for young and old alike.  We need to interact and share our lives with non-believers and bad characters, but we can’t let them influence us to be like them.  Who is converting whom?

The Resurrection Body

35 But someone may ask, “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body will they come?” 36 How foolish! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. 37 When you sow, you do not plant the body that will be, but just a seed, perhaps of wheat or of something else. 38 But God gives it a body as he has determined, and to each kind of seed he gives its own body. 39 All flesh is not the same: Men have one kind of flesh, animals have another, birds another and fish another. 40 There are also heavenly bodies and there are earthly bodies; but the splendor of the heavenly bodies is one kind, and the splendor of the earthly bodies is another. 41 The sun has one kind of splendor, the moon another and the stars another; and star differs from star in splendor.

42 So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; 43 it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; 44 it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.

If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. 45 So it is written: “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit. 46 The spiritual did not come first, but the natural, and after that the spiritual. 47 The first man was of the dust of the earth, the second man from heaven. 48 As was the earthly man, so are those who are of the earth; and as is the man from heaven, so also are those who are of heaven. 49 And just as we have borne the likeness of the earthly man, so shall we bear the likeness of the man from heaven.

50 I declare to you, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. 51 Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— 52 in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 53 For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. 54 When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”

55 “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?”

56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

58 Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.

The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

God “gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”  We didn’t earn it.  And since He gave it to us we can rest assured that it is not going anywhere.  We can live in victory and confidence that He’ll win in the end and that our actions will not be in vain.  There are so many ways to get discouraged in the Christian life.  Reading the Bible reminds us of how it will all work out.

1 Corinthians 14

1c141.jpgGreetings!  The topic of speaking in tongues (that is, a special language that most others cannot understand) is often controversial.  Some think this spiritual gift ceased after the early church died out, but I don’t see any Biblical justification for that.  But I definitely don’t see it as a requirement for being a “true” Christian, as some believe.  This is an excellent piece on why speaking in tongues is not required for salvation. 

In my experience the churches who emphasize speaking in tongues do not follow the Biblical pattern.  It really isn’t that complicated.  This chapter has the most discussion on this gift, though it is also mentioned elsewhere in 1 Corinthians, five times in the book of Acts (though at least one of those was a completely different type of speaking in tongues, where people spoke their normal language but others could understand them), and one time in chapter 16 of the book of Mark, though that passage is highly disputed.

Paul is actually quite clear here: Speaking in tongues is permitted but not required, and when it is done it should follow certain guidelines so as not to confuse people.

Note: When Paul speaks of “brothers” it is a broad term that includes both sexes.

Gifts of Prophecy and Tongues

14     Follow the way of love and eagerly desire spiritual gifts, especially the gift of prophecy. 2 For anyone who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God. Indeed, no one understands him; he utters mysteries with his spirit. 3 But everyone who prophesies speaks to men for their strengthening, encouragement and comfort. 4 He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself, but he who prophesies edifies the church. 5 I would like every one of you to speak in tongues, but I would rather have you prophesy. He who prophesies is greater than one who speaks in tongues, unless he interprets, so that the church may be edified.

6 Now, brothers, if I come to you and speak in tongues, what good will I be to you, unless I bring you some revelation or knowledge or prophecy or word of instruction? 7 Even in the case of lifeless things that make sounds, such as the flute or harp, how will anyone know what tune is being played unless there is a distinction in the notes? 8 Again, if the trumpet does not sound a clear call, who will get ready for battle? 9 So it is with you. Unless you speak intelligible words with your tongue, how will anyone know what you are saying? You will just be speaking into the air. 10 Undoubtedly there are all sorts of languages in the world, yet none of them is without meaning. 11 If then I do not grasp the meaning of what someone is saying, I am a foreigner to the speaker, and he is a foreigner to me. 12 So it is with you. Since you are eager to have spiritual gifts, try to excel in gifts that build up the church.

13 For this reason anyone who speaks in a tongue should pray that he may interpret what he says. 14 For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my mind is unfruitful. 15 So what shall I do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will also pray with my mind; I will sing with my spirit, but I will also sing with my mind. 16 If you are praising God with your spirit, how can one who finds himself among those who do not understand say “Amen” to your thanksgiving, since he does not know what you are saying? 17 You may be giving thanks well enough, but the other man is not edified.

18 I thank God that I speak in tongues more than all of you. 19 But in the church I would rather speak five intelligible words to instruct others than ten thousand words in a tongue.

20 Brothers, stop thinking like children. In regard to evil be infants, but in your thinking be adults. 21 In the Law it is written: “Through men of strange tongues and through the lips of foreigners I will speak to this people, but even then they will not listen to me,” says the Lord.

22 Tongues, then, are a sign, not for believers but for unbelievers; prophecy, however, is for believers, not for unbelievers. 23 So if the whole church comes together and everyone speaks in tongues, and some who do not understand or some unbelievers come in, will they not say that you are out of your mind? 24 But if an unbeliever or someone who does not understand comes in while everybody is prophesying, he will be convinced by all that he is a sinner and will be judged by all, 25 and the secrets of his heart will be laid bare. So he will fall down and worship God, exclaiming, “God is really among you!”

Orderly Worship

26 What then shall we say, brothers? When you come together, everyone has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. All of these must be done for the strengthening of the church. 27 If anyone speaks in a tongue, two—or at the most three—should speak, one at a time, and someone must interpret. 28 If there is no interpreter, the speaker should keep quiet in the church and speak to himself and God.

29 Two or three prophets should speak, and the others should weigh carefully what is said. 30 And if a revelation comes to someone who is sitting down, the first speaker should stop. 31 For you can all prophesy in turn so that everyone may be instructed and encouraged. 32 The spirits of prophets are subject to the control of prophets. 33 For God is not a God of disorder but of peace.

As in all the congregations of the saints, 34 women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the Law says. 35 If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church.

That is a controversial passage with various interpretations, but as best I can tell the “women” in question are married women who were disrupting the church services. 

36 Did the word of God originate with you? Or are you the only people it has reached? 37 If anybody thinks he is a prophet or spiritually gifted, let him acknowledge that what I am writing to you is the Lord’s command. 38 If he ignores this, he himself will be ignored.

39 Therefore, my brothers, be eager to prophesy, and do not forbid speaking in tongues. 40 But everything should be done in a fitting and orderly way.

The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

God doesn’t give overly detailed requirements for worship in the Christian Church, especially compared to the Israelite guidelines in the Old Testament.  But He does require order and not chaos.

1 Corinthians 13

1c13.jpgGreetings!  If you’ve been to a wedding, you’ve probably heard this passage.  It isn’t just about marital love, though.  This is about agape love, the highest form of love – the kind that puts the interests of others before our own.

13     If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.

 

4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. 12 Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

Some people thing that spiritual truths are unknowable, but that isn’t the Christian worldview at all.  We don’t know everything, but we can know what we need to know.  And we’ll learn much more later.

13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

One exercise I’ve heard to do with this next section is to read it three times:

  • Once as written
  • Once with “God” or “Jesus” instead of “love” (i.e., “God is patient, God is kind, . . . “).  This will help you understand God’s attributes
  • Once with your name instead of “love.”  This will keep you humble and challenge you to be more loving!  When I use my name there I am tempted to have question marks instead of commas (“Neil is patient?  Neil is kind?  Really?!).

Try it!

1 Corinthians 12

1c12.jpgGreetings!  We are given talents at birth and spiritual gifts when we become believers.  I did a lay sermon on spiritual gifts last year.  The notes and audio are here

We should always be humble about things God has given us, but we shouldn’t have false humility and deny that the gifts we have.  Here are a few ways to determine your spiritual gifts:

  • What do others say your gifts are?
  • Take surveys to determine what they may be
  • What do you like to do?  Those areas may be where your gifts lie.
  • Try things!  If it isn’t your gift, move on.  But you never know what you may like.

Spiritual Gifts

12     Now about spiritual gifts, brothers, I do not want you to be ignorant. 2 You know that when you were pagans, somehow or other you were influenced and led astray to mute idols. 3 Therefore I tell you that no one who is speaking by the Spirit of God says, “Jesus be cursed,” and no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit.

4 There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. 5 There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. 6 There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men.

7 Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. 8 To one there is given through the Spirit the message of wisdom, to another the message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, 10 to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. 11 All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as he determines.

One Body, Many Parts

12 The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ. 13 For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.

14 Now the body is not made up of one part but of many. 15 If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. 19 If they were all one part, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, but one body.

21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” 22 On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, 24 while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it, 25 so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. 26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.

27 Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. 28 And in the church God has appointed first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles, also those having gifts of healing, those able to help others, those with gifts of administration, and those speaking in different kinds of tongues. 29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? 30 Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? 31 But eagerly desire the greater gifts.

No one has all the gifts, but all have some gifts.  Rejoice in the gifts that others have and don’t be jealous!  Be glad that they have gifts for things that you don’t like to do. 

Love

And now I will show you the most excellent way.

The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

1 Corinthians 11

1c11.jpgGreetings!

1 Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.

Of course we should follow Jesus, but we can also follow the example of godly people on earth.  They are more tangible and visible to us.  Paul wasn’t sinless and didn’t pretend to be, and neither are the rest of us.  We need to use discernment and ask for wisdom regarding those we follow. 

Propriety in Worship

11     I praise you for remembering me in everything and for holding to the teachings, just as I passed them on to you.

3 Now I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God.

“Headship” involves authority and structure, not worth.  Jesus has the same worth as God the Father, of course, but they have different roles.  It is not an insult to say that man is the head of woman.  As the saying goes, an animal with two heads is a freak and an animal with no heads is dead.  Men need to lead their families but in the servant-leader role epitomized by Jesus.

The following guidance contains some things specific to the Corinthian culture, such as head coverings, but the principles are timeless.  There are proper attitudes for worship and we should be careful to follow them.  I get distracted easily and often have the wrong attitude in worship.  I need to remember that it is all for God.

4 Every man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonors his head. 5 And every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head—it is just as though her head were shaved. 6 If a woman does not cover her head, she should have her hair cut off; and if it is a disgrace for a woman to have her hair cut or shaved off, she should cover her head. 7 A man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God; but the woman is the glory of man. 8 For man did not come from woman, but woman from man; 9 neither was man created for woman, but woman for man. 10 For this reason, and because of the angels, the woman ought to have a sign of authority on her head.

11 In the Lord, however, woman is not independent of man, nor is man independent of woman. 12 For as woman came from man, so also man is born of woman. But everything comes from God. 13 Judge for yourselves: Is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head uncovered? 14 Does not the very nature of things teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a disgrace to him, 15 but that if a woman has long hair, it is her glory? For long hair is given to her as a covering. 16 If anyone wants to be contentious about this, we have no other practice—nor do the churches of God.

The Lord’s Supper

17 In the following directives I have no praise for you, for your meetings do more harm than good. 18 In the first place, I hear that when you come together as a church, there are divisions among you, and to some extent I believe it. 19 No doubt there have to be differences among you to show which of you have God’s approval. 20 When you come together, it is not the Lord’s Supper you eat, 21 for as you eat, each of you goes ahead without waiting for anybody else. One remains hungry, another gets drunk. 22 Don’t you have homes 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 praise you for this? Certainly not!

Apparently the wealthier people ate plenty and the poorer folks didn’t have enough.  It is interesting that the very early church was broad in its membership.  This is an important facet of Christianity: Jesus came for anyone who would believe, regardless of age, sex, culture, wealth, etc.

23 For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night 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, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26 For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.

27 Therefore, 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. 28 A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup. 29 For anyone who eats and drinks without recognizing the body of the Lord eats and drinks judgment on himself. 30 That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep. 31 But if we judged ourselves, we would not come under judgment. 32 When we are judged by the Lord, we are being disciplined so that we will not be condemned with the world.

I don’t like to think about the many times I have taken communion in an unworthy manner.  My attitude is so often in the wrong place. 

Some churches are too exclusive with communion and won’t share it with authentic believers in Christ because they go to the “wrong” church.  Yet other churches, like the one where we are members, are too loose and invite anyone to come up.  This is a serious judgment Paul is speaking of.  Do you “examine” yourself before communion?

33 So then, my brothers, when you come together to eat, wait for each other. 34 If anyone is hungry, he should eat at home, so that when you meet together it may not result in judgment.

And when I come I will give further directions.

The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

1 Corinthians 10

1c10.jpgGreetings!  Many Christians don’t spend much time with the Old Testament, but it really lays the foundation for the New Testament.  When was the last time you read from the book of Numbers or heard a sermon about it?  Yet here we are in 1 Corinthians and Paul is offering warnings from the history of Israel that are recorded in Numbers. 

Notice how Paul says in v. 4 that the spiritual rock for the Israelites as Christ!  I hadn’t noticed that before. 

Warnings From Israel’s History

10     For I do not want you to be ignorant of the fact, brothers, that our forefathers were all under the cloud and that they all passed through the sea. 2 They were all baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea. 3 They all ate the same spiritual food 4 and drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ. 5 Nevertheless, God was not pleased with most of them; their bodies were scattered over the desert.

6 Now these things occurred as examples to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things as they did. 7 Do not be idolaters, as some of them were; as it is written: “The people sat down to eat and drink and got up to indulge in pagan revelry.” 8 We should not commit sexual immorality, as some of them did—and in one day twenty-three thousand of them died. 9 We should not test the Lord, as some of them did—and were killed by snakes. 10 And do not grumble, as some of them did—and were killed by the destroying angel.

11 These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the fulfillment of the ages has come. 12 So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! 13 No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.

The Old Testament warns us of the consequences of sin.  And many times we get overconfident and then succumb to temptation.  We need to stand way behind the lines of temptation. 

V. 13 is a good one to commit to memory.  Sometimes we think we are the only ones tempted by certain things.  There are some things that tempt others but not me, and vice verse, but generally temptations are fairly common.  That is why small groups are so important in the Christian life.  If you don’t have a small group of people that you meet with regularly and really trust I encourage you to get in one.  It is a great way to encourage and challenge one another, and to hold each other accountable.  I meet with three guys each week and it makes a huge difference in my life. 

Idol Feasts and the Lord’s Supper

14 Therefore, my dear friends, flee from idolatry.

Idolatry is putting other things before God.  We don’t often think of fleeing in positive terms, but it is wise to flee from sin.

 15 I speak to sensible people; judge for yourselves what I say. 16 Is not the cup of thanksgiving for which we give thanks a participation in the blood of Christ? And is not the bread that we break a participation in the body of Christ? 17 Because there is one loaf, we, who are many, are one body, for we all partake of the one loaf.

18 Consider the people of Israel: Do not those who eat the sacrifices participate in the altar? 19 Do I mean then that a sacrifice offered to an idol is anything, or that an idol is anything? 20 No, but the sacrifices of pagans are offered to demons, not to God, and I do not want you to be participants with demons. 21 You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons too; you cannot have a part in both the Lord’s table and the table of demons. 22 Are we trying to arouse the Lord’s jealousy? Are we stronger than he?

Atheists sometimes act as if it is a “sin” for God to be jealous.  But He is the one being who can have a righteous jealousy. 

The Believer’s Freedom

23 “Everything is permissible”—but not everything is beneficial. “Everything is permissible”—but not everything is constructive. 24 Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others.

Contrary to stereotypes, we have incredible freedom in Christ.  We shouldn’t abuse that, though.  Just because we are allowed to do something doesn’t mean it is positive. 

25 Eat anything sold in the meat market without raising questions of conscience, 26 for, “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it.”

27 If some unbeliever invites you to a meal and you want to go, eat whatever is put before you without raising questions of conscience. 28 But if anyone says to you, “This has been offered in sacrifice,” then do not eat it, both for the sake of the man who told you and for conscience’ sake— 29 the other man’s conscience, I mean, not yours. For why should my freedom be judged by another’s conscience? 30 If I take part in the meal with thankfulness, why am I denounced because of something I thank God for?

Paul points out again that we can do many things with our freedom but our motivation should always be love for others.  If our actions would tempt others we should abstain from them. 

31 So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. 32 Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God— 33 even as I try to please everybody in every way. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved.

The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.