Implications of Communion - RR274H15
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|This transcript is unedited. It was:|
|Archived by the Mt. Olive Tape Library|
|Digitized, transcribed, and published by Christ Rules|
|Posted by with permission.|
Let us worship God. Oh come let us sing unto the Lord, let us make a joyful noise to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving and make a joyful noise unto Him with songs. Let us pray.
Almighty God our Heavenly Father we come again into Thy presence joyful in all Thy blessings, confident in Thy providential care. Ever reliant upon Thy sure mercies through Jesus Christ our Lord. We commit ourselves unto Thee and to Thy word, that by Thy spirit Thou wouldst work in us those things which it is Thy purpose for us. Give us grace to receive Thy ways, Thy doings, Thy judgments concerning us. And make us in all things thankful that we may ever rejoice in Thy holy name. In Christ’s name we pray, Amen.
Our scripture this morning is First Corinthians 10:23-33. Our subject: Implications of Communion.
“All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not.
24Let no man seek his own, but every man another's wealth.
25Whatsoever is sold in the shambles, that eat, asking no question for conscience sake:
26For the earth is the Lord's, and the fullness thereof.
27If any of them that believe not bid you to a feast, and ye be disposed to go; whatsoever is set before you, eat, asking no question for conscience sake.
28But if any man say unto you, this is offered in sacrifice unto idols, eat not for his sake that shewed it, and for conscience sake: for the earth is the Lord's, and the fullness thereof:
29Conscience, I say, not thine own, but of the other: for why is my liberty judged of another man's conscience?
30For if I by grace be a partaker, why am I evil spoken of for that for which I give thanks?
31Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.
32Give none offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God:
33Even as I please all men in all things, not seeking mine own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved.”
Paul here returns again to the subject of food offered to idols. [00:04:02]
He repeats the statement he had made earlier in First...
He repeats the statement he had made earlier in First Corinthians 6:12 ‘all things are lawful unto me but all things are not expedient or profitable. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any’. Since God is the creator of all things and all things were made good there is nothing on earth that is evil of itself. It is the use thereof that is evil! Our sexuality can be good or evil depending on our use of it, not in and of itself. It is the act, the expression of mans will and mind that sets the moral character. Man is God’s image bearer must not make himself subject to his mind or appetite; he must be in charge under God. Now in repeating the maxim used by the Corinthian Paul alters his comments or develops it saying: all things are lawful for me but all things edify not. Earlier he had said that lawless use could be made of lawful things. Now he alters or expands that to say that even if the use is not lawless it may not edify or build us up. We are not our own, he had concluded earlier, having been bought with a price by Jesus Christ. Therefore let no man seek his own but every man another’s wealth. In so stating it Paul is tying in this matter of meat offered to idols, of the strong and the weak, to the fact of communion. They are now members of one another and they cannot act as though their lives are unrelated to the Christian community. Paul then says whatsoever is sold in the shambles, that was the meat market was then called, then eating asking no question for conscience sake. The idols are nothing. The sacrifices are nothing in and of themselves. In fact, they were so nominal that some butchers only burned a few hairs of the slaughtered animal as a formality of sacrifice. The pagan’s practiced it but it had come to mean in many, many cases virtually nothing. [00:07:45]
To ask questions was to take the matter too seriously...
To ask questions was to take the matter too seriously. It was not the butchers act but their own mindset that was important. The basic premise is set forth in Psalm 24:1: “The earth is the Lords and the fullness thereof.” What God has made cannot pollute us unless wrongly used. Neither the butcher nor the pagan priest created the sacrificial animal, God did. And it is God who determines the lawful use thereof. The priority in and sum total of all meaning is determined by God, not by the creature. Then Paul says in verse twenty seven: “If any of them that believe not bid you to a feast and ye be disposed to go whatsoever is set before you, eat, asking no question for conscience sake.” The reference can be an invitation to a pagan neighbor’s house or to some community dinner. Whatever is served one should eat asking no questions for conscience sake. The meaning is that we are to raise no questions of conscience because we know that the idols are nothing. Then Paul adds in verse twenty eight: “But if any man say unto you this is offered to sacrifice to idols, eat not for his sake that showed it and for conscience sake. For the earth is the Lords and the fullness thereof.” The question raised is by a weaker Christian who is also a guest. He should not use- we should not use our liberty to hurt a weak brother. We should remember that because the earth is the Lords we cannot view the eating of meats sacrificed to idols either from the perspective of the strong or the weak but only from the perspective of God the Lord. [00:10:46]
Conscience, this is a very interesting emphasis...
Conscience, this is a very interesting emphasis. Paul says conscience, I say, not thine own but of the other for why is my liberty judged of another man’s conscience. For if I by grace be a partaker why am I evil spoke of for that which I gave thanks. Paul makes two statements which are seeming contradiction. First: beginning at verse twenty eight Paul calls for abstaining of eating such meats when the question is raised out of regard for his weaker brother. Then second he insists on his Christian liberty to eat even as he abstains because he partakes by grace. He gives thanks to the living God, not to idols, so why am I evil spoken of for that for which I give thanks? Paul says I am not abstaining for the sake of my weaker brother but in obedience to God. Paul concedes nothing to the weak even as he abstains from eating such meats. In terms of this he adds: “Whether therefore you eat or drink or whatsoever you do, do all to the glory of God.” Nothing is conceded to the weak, abstinence on a particular occasion goes hand in hand of the insistence Paul sets forth, namely, that idols are nothing. And the meat is a provision from God, not from the idol. The glory of God is the issue not what one does with food set before him. This the weaker brother must not obscure. It is not his will that must prevail but the purpose of God. Well we face a like issue in this century where liquor is concerned. Many see it as radically ungodly to drink beer, wine or hard liquor. They have falsely exulted the manner of abstinence into a theological issue. [00:13:59]
This they must be allowed to do...
This they must be allowed to do. On the other hand it is equally wrong to go to extremes of provocation and cause serious problems to the weak when together. As a general rule, Paul concludes, give none offense neither to the Jews nor to the Gentiles nor to the church of God. It is not only weaker Christians we must avoid offending but Jews and Greeks as well. Our purpose must not be destructive but constructive. In other words, Paul even when he says I will not eat because of my weaker brother will tell his weaker brother what the purpose of God is. There is no merit in being offensive. No virtue in compelling people to see their faith desecrated. This neither builds up nor saves anyone. Charles Hodge observed and I quote:
“The first great principle of Christian conduct is to promote the glory of God. The second is to avoid giving offense or causing men to sin. In other words love to God and love to men should govern our conduct.” Unquote.
Paul concludes even as I please all men and all things not seeking my own profit but the profit of many, that they may be saved. Paul does not alter his private attitudes to determine his ministry; he does not allow it, because he is Christ’s ambassador and must only represent Jesus Christ. In this he adds: “Be ye followers of me even as I am also of Christ.” Thus in the question of the weak and the strong the determination can be by either or by the church but only by Jesus Christ. We are to be his followers not the followers of men except in their obedience to the Lord. It is Christ and His law word which must prevail. Our communion one with another must begin with our communion with Him. He is the Lord. Let us pray. [00:17:08]
Our Father we give thanks unto Thee for this Thy word...
Our Father we give thanks unto Thee for this Thy word. We thank Thee that we cannot seek our standards for men, weak or strong, believer or unbeliever, but only from Thee and Thy word. Give us the humility to obey Thee and not ourselves nor other men. In Christ’s name, Amen.
Now are there any questions about our lesson?
I think one of the problems we face in our time has been the tyranny of the weak. And it is no more to be desired than the tyranny of the strong. Both are alike to be under the word of God. And Paul’s statements here are urgently important in our time when so many people have made central issues of the faith. Things similar to what Paul is talking about. They can be drinking; they can be smoking or other related issues. And we have no right to make those the critical issues. We have all of us a duty to serve God and to look to Him for standards and we are first of all to be critical of ourselves, to bring ourselves to the discipline of the word rather than to do so with others. I’ve seen over the years that some churches feel very strongly that they’ve got to keep everybody in line on everything and the result is that they produce very weak Christians and such churches tend to go modernist very quickly because the word of God has been replaced by the rules and regulations of men. Yes? [00:20:21]
[Man speaking] Rush, I don’t know, but tell me what...
[Man speaking] Rush, I don’t know, but tell me what you think, in my experience I think a lot of these people want an identifiable, an externally identifiable spine to differentiate them from the world rather than the written law of God. It seems to be…
[Rushdoony] Last week the third volume of Institutes of Biblical Law was sent into be typeset and the point I make there is that according to the rabbinic account there are six hundred and thirteen laws in the Bible, in the Torah. The Christian count would be a little lower because what the Rabbi’s did was to take a single law and break it up very astutely often into two or three laws. Now out of those six hundred and thirteen some are enforceable by state or by church or family. Most are not to be enforced by any of these agencies but only by God. And this is the lesson that the church and the world have refused to learn. They feel that the good society requires endless enforcement by men so whether it’s a humanistic state or the Christian church they are going to crack the whip and lay down the law to everybody. And that’s all together wrong, it’s totally alien to what scripture requires of us. And so it is that we have had nothing but problems. They are bad enough when they occur within the Christian community but in the non-Christian world there is no restraint on their lawmaking. And as a result they are going to legislate totally from cradle to grave every jot and tittle of everything. All you have to do is to listen to the news or read the papers to see how increasingly the law is becoming like a noose around the necks of the people. To strangle them! It was about forty years ago that the vice president of an important bank told me that anytime he displeased any federal official he could be sent to jail. He said there were so many rules on the books governing banking that there was no way that anyone could avoid being guilty. [00:23:21]
Now that’s what happens when we refuse to follow God...
Now that’s what happens when we refuse to follow God’s way. And the irony of the whole situation to me is that people regard God and His law as tyrannical and the state as representing freedom. They’ve got the whole thing backwards because the law of God gives us the maximum freedom that has ever been given by any society to human beings. Are there any other questions, yes?
[Man speaking] On the matter of being a guest for dinner at someone’s house, and they happen to have food like ham or something, any unclean food, you are not to embarrass them, is that the way it goes, by not eating it or declining to eat that particular food?
[Rushdoony] I think the simplest thing is to avoid making an issue and yet not to eat it. Which is what I have always done. Very commonly if you’re not too familiar with them or they with you and they’ve asked you to eat, they will say ‘are there things which you cannot eat’. Are you allergic to anything, or is there something you don’t like. Now that is still done I find it very commonplace when I travel and I’m going to be invited out after a conference meeting, I’ll be told what is there that you cannot eat. And I will simply say I abide by biblical diet and I’m also very allergic to tomatoes and that’s it. And I think that is a gracious way for any hostess to act when she invites something. But there is no point in eating what you cannot eat or do not believe in eating. I have known of very fine men who have gone out and they’ve been fed pork and they’ve avoided making an issue of it and they’ve eaten it and gotten very sick. And there is no profit in that. Any other questions? [00:26:35]
People will respect you when you are honest about it...
People will respect you when you are honest about it and there are usually enough things set before you usually that there are other things that you can eat. Well if there are no further questions let us conclude with prayer.
Our Father we thank Thee for Thy word and for the freedom of Thy provision for us. Grant that we move from the tyranny of statism, the tyranny of manmade rules in church, state and every realm of life into the freedom of thy law word. Make us strong in our stand and faithful in all things to Thee. And now go in peace, God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Ghost, bless you and keep you, guide and protect you, this day and always, Amen.