And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. (Rom 5:3-6)
Let not those who hope in you be put to shame through me, O Lord GOD of hosts; let not those who seek you be brought to dishonor through me, O God of Israel. (Psalm 69:6)
Sunday, October 25, 2009
Here are a few of my rough study notes from the sermon today. If you read them you will clearly see that they are in a much better order than they were presented. Some of you would like to dialog on this over coffee, sounds great!
The Sabbath and Legalism
1 Corinthians 8 & 10:14-33
Summarizing last weeks, let me give you a few things John Calvin concluded about the Sabbath that will be beneficial summations…
1. That during our whole lives we may aim at a consistent rest from our own works in order that the Lord ma work in us by His Spirit.
2. that every individual as he has opportunity man diligently exercise himself in private and pious meditation on the works of God and at the same time, that all may observe the legitimate order appointed by the Church, for the hearing of the word, the administration of the sacraments, and public prayer.
3. That we may avoid oppressing those who are subject to us.
At this point it may be well to bring up a bit of teaching on legalism.
In worship you can find many false religions clearly. But not so subtle is a twisting of God’s worship by liberalism or legalism. Liberalism is a bit more apparent, and yes legalism gets carried away. Case in point, the burning of bibles and other books that is planned for Halloween night by a Kentucky pastor. http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,569121,00.html
What Paul writes of in his day with the Corinthians we also face today in forms of the previous examples. Now let us talk about meat offered before idols. It may seem strange to do so, but I believe it will have a great impact on what we are to study. You see, to some the Sabbath is just another day. They may treat all days as holy. (Mind you do they rest all days?) What we do want to avoid is legalism and a diminishing of the Sabbath unto drudgery.
Our Text is 1 Corinthians chapters 8 through 10.
Paul talks of our knowledge that idols are nothing ,and that meat offered before an Idol is nothing, so eat up. But also he notes that if it causes a brother to stumble he will eat no more meat. It is a cultural axiom, but also it is of giving up ones liberty in Christ for the weaker brother.
In chapter 7 he had been dealing with the teachings on circumcision. So our context is placing rules upon people that are unbeneficial, unnecessary, and hard to bear in the cultural context.
Chapter 8 begins with a discussion on knowledge and its perceived value against love. Now a summarization is that knowledge has its place, but without love it is nothing. Knowledge is always incomplete, but love can be full. Knowing God is far greater than knowing stuff.
The situation here dealt with meat eating. In the Corinthians letter to Paul there were two of these situations being dealt with. The eating of meat at a pagan temple, and the eating of meat at a home in which the meat may have been purchased from a pagan temple. It often would be sold at a cheaper price. Back then, the extra meat from pagan worship would be served at restaurants that were associated with pagan worship. A pagan ritual may have even been part of the restaurant services. Paul in chapter ten will illustrate that this is clearly wrong. But another issue needs to be dealt with for conscience sake, there arises the problem that meat offered to you in a home may have been purchased at the temple butcher.
We must remember the context these Corinthians are in. They existed their entire lives in a culture of superstition and idolatry. It would be so steeped in their customs that it would be part of their nature and often unrecognizable. I could compare this to a European I knew years ago who grew up in Germany. Strong in the faith, and upright in many ways. Yet, once in the Bible belt of the South, he had to face brethren who had a very strong opposition to him and his comfort with the occasional beer. There existed a stumbling block. (It existed in both parties of belief)
Verses 7 through 9 talk of the stumbling block that such persons may face. Not all understand. Some can see things for what they truly are, some will see them with the associations made upon it.
Another example I can give is that of a good friend of mine. He enjoys the music of U2. News interviews tell hey claim Christ as their savior. Though I am not as familiar with them as I once was, I hear they often have lyrics of moral uprightness. But for someone who struggles with a past of “rock music”, U2 may be a very real struggle.
Verse 9 grabs us with a very real truth of the cross, deny self. Do not be a stumbling block to your brother. (Mind you reason is implied here, if they want to think behaviors forbidden explicitly by the scriptures are permissible, they must be gently taught the truth) Your freedom in areas of life may very well be a detriment to others. Maybe its your affluence. Your shiny new car discussions may have serious problems for a brother who idolizes materialistic things.
Be cautious of taking Verses 10 through 12 into a legalist bent. They contain a bit of hyperbola. Paul is not saying he would never ever again eat meat, but only in the presence of the weaker brother.
Chapter nine covers a great portion of text that applies to us. Paul is forced to give a bit of his credentials in order to make a point. It is not bragging, its proper contextual teaching. He talks of who he is, what his rights are by extent, and how he is willing to live by the principal of scripture with great love and joy to deny himself for the weaker brother. With all his knowledge, he remains anchored that it is all worthless without love. “For as the excellence of actions depends on the fear of God and the integrity of conscience, so, on the other hand, there is no action, that is so good in appearance, as not to be polluted by a corrupt affection of the mind. “ John Calvin Commentary vol 20, p 280.
As we look at chapter ten, Paul resumes addressing the difficulties the Corinthians wrote about in dealing with the cultural context and worship within the church.
Verses 14 on through 22 illustrate a basic tenant, have nothing to do with pagan rituals. Christians are not doing right by “becoming all things to all men” if they participate in activities of offense to God “in order to win some” as some may claim. (Not the exact context here, but I hope you get the point) Paul implies that we need to use our God given logic and knowledge to make clear judgments upon right and wrong. It is not the meat that is the problem, it’s the participation in an act that denies God.
However, verse 23 and following talk of the liberties that we do have. We may eat meat, for it is nothing, but not if it would bother another under their difficulty of it having been once part of a pagan ritual. Paul gives a great summary for all of life. So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. Give no offense to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God, just as I try to please everyone in everything I do, not seeking my own advantage, but that of many, that they may be saved.
1 Corinthians 10:31-33
As we live as new wineskins, Coram Deo, and that our existence is all for the glorification of God, let us do all to the glory of God.