Persecution Ahead - RR274e10b
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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.|
Oh Thou that hearest prayer, unto Thee shall all flesh come. Let us pray.
Oh Lord our God we give thanks unto Thee that day by day Thy mercies are ever new. Thy providential care unfailing. Thy grace ever abounding. Give us grateful hearts our Father that we may praise thee as we ought. That all the days of our life we may serve Thee with joy and with thanksgiving. Hear now the unspoken prayers of every heart. Hear, heal, bless and prosper these Thy people. In Christ’s name, Amen.
Our scripture is First Corinthian 7:1-7. Our subject: Persecution Ahead.
“Now concerning the things whereof ye wrote unto me: It is good for a man not to touch a woman. Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband. Let the husband render unto the wife due benevolence: and likewise also the wife unto the husband. The wife hath not power of her own body, but the husband: and likewise also the husband hath not power of his own body, but the wife. Defraud ye not one the other, except it be with consent for a time, that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency. But I speak this by permission, and not of commandment. For I would that all men were even as I myself. But every man hath his proper gift of God, one after this manner, and another after that.”
This chapter more than any other is used against Paul routinely. Modernists use it to say that he was Aesthetic; he was anti-marriage and so on and so on. Those who are Bible believers often fall in to the trap of apologizing for Paul and failing to see the point of what he said. [00:03:54]
Now. Paul is not viewing sex and marriage unfavorably. To think so is to misread the text. Paul was a Jew and Jews were very pro-marriage. Jews were very pro-family. There never have been any Jewish monks or nuns. Now: to say that Paul views marriage unfavorably and regards celibacy as a higher estate is wrong. It is not only to misread the text but to neglect a key phrase in verse twenty six. What is Paul saying there? Even this present distress! We have an emergency situation. In terms of that I’m counseling you. This is not for normal circumstances. Remember too that Paul writes this because they wrote and asked him the question. Given the problems we’re facing, should we marry? The present distress. What does that mean? Well, the word distress in the Greek is a form of [unsure] meaning a necessity, an emergency created by circumstances. Well this puts an entirely different meaning on the whole passage. What was the present distress or emergency? We’ll come to that in a minute. But in the Jewish perspective we have to recognize and Paul was a thoroughly good and consistent Jew. Every man was regarded as having a duty to marry unless physically incapable. In the Greco-Roman view however things physical were regarded as amoral, having no moral consequence. This is why Socrates could talk about virtue at a banquet table while indulging in homosexual acts. In the Greco-Roman view a good man could marry and/or fornicate freely or he could remain celibate, there were many, many Aesthetics who saw their separation from sex as a higher and more spiritual way. Paul rejects both of these pagan views, celibacy can be honorable and so too marriage. He will not therefore make it a requirement to do one or the other as the moral way. [00:08:05]
A governing phrase is ...
A governing phrase is ‘for the present distress’, for the present emergency. Our histories of the early church are incomplete. Was Corinth facing a persecution which could kill many of the men leaving behind widows and orphans? Which would make death more difficult for the Christian men? Consider if you were arrested for your faith and you were given the choice of renouncing your faith and living or dying and leaving your wife and your children bereft of support and you knew that the church could do what it could to help them but they were so many other men arrested and facing death. It would be a very, very difficult choice. It is one thing to be ready to die when you’re single for the faith, another to have a wife and children and have them helpless because of your execution for Christian belief. This is the context of this text or of all forty verses of this chapter in fact. It is the context of the Corinthian church, it is their concern. Because as verse one tells us they wrote to Paul asking his council in this very urgent matter. Paul’s answer is in terms of this context. Some of the men are reasonably sure they are going to die. Basically for the likely martyr he says it is a good thing for a man not to touch a woman. This is going to be too difficult for you so if you’re single stay single! Paul’s Jewishness cannot be contested. There is no aestheticism in his heritage. [00:11:08]
What Paul is saying is simply that an informed choice...
What Paul is saying is simply that an informed choice is necessary for these possible martyrs. It is possible for a man to avoid marriage because one is likely to be singled out for arrest and death or by avoiding marriage fall into fornication. Therefore, Paul says, if you’re going to fall into fornication, into sin, by staying single, marry! Let every man have his own wife and let every woman have her own husband. If they do marry Aestheticism must be avoided Paul says. Husband and wife must render to each other the due benevolence or sexual union. The Greek expression refers to a good given one to another, so that Paul is saying your sexual relations are a form of doing good to each other in marriage. There is no depreciation of marital sex, it is not even remotely implied. In marriage a husband’s body, Paul says, is in his wife’s power to use and the wife’s body is in her husband’s power. To deny sex one to another, he says, is to defraud one’s marriage partner. By consent the couple can for a time give themselves to fasting and prayer but only for a limited time so Satan tempt you not for your incontinency. Aesthetic separation can lead to sexual temptation. Again, what is Paul talking about? First he says if you can’t stay single, marry. Well if in marriage you recognize that they might be knocking on your door to arrest you very soon because you are a Christian; don’t forgo your sexual relations because of this unless it’s for a short time for fasting and prayer, to pray for the church under persecution. Then Paul makes clear that no law of God dictates saying single before persecution nor getting married. And he says that this is a matter for you to decide in terms of your situation and your character. [00:14:41]
Once married however God’s law, he says, requires a...
Once married however God’s law, he says, requires a mutual obligation. The permission to marry or to stay single is exactly that, a permission. But once a man or a woman chooses one or the other course they are then obligated to its conditions. They cannot marry and act like a monk. Obedience to God’s law is always obligatory. Paul in verse seven says that he wishes that all men were as he, single and able to stay single for Paul was somewhat older. Paul according to Acts consented to Stephen’s death. Now, if this means that he voted it for in the Sanhedrin as the text seems to indicate it means that Paul was either a married man or a widower because a single man could not take part in the Sanhedrin. That was an interesting aspect of the Old Testament, of the law. Only men who were married or were widowers could hold office or could vote, because they were responsible people with responsibility towards a wife and/or children. Moreover Paul was put in charge of an expedition to arrest Christians. This would not have been entrusted to a single man because it was held by the Jewish believers and on good Old Testament grounds that a man is less responsible if he is single. Today our law still recognizes that fact, why? Well a single man pays a higher automobile insurance then a married man does because it is recognized that males are less stable prior to marriage when they assume responsibility. When Paul says that ‘I would that all men are even as myself’ the context tells us that he means like himself, unencumbered with a family to make martyrdom difficult. [00:18:07]
In Second Corinthians ...
In Second Corinthians 11:22-33 Paul gives us an account of his own trials, his beatings and his near death experiences to illustrate what a Christian could be sentenced to. Outside the bible these incidences are not recorded so whatever the believers in Corinth faced has gone unrecorded. It does not mean it was not a very real crisis but history apparently didn’t feel that the death of a handful of believers in Corinth was worth recording. Only when it was in great numbers that Christians were martyred do we have any record of the fact. Paul in Acts 26:10 speaks of voting against Christians in Jerusalem in the Sanhedrin. This I think makes clear that he was apparently married and is now single, a widower. This makes his ministry and potential martyrdom easier he says. And he wishes that all men were even as myself, that is, not required to make the difficult choice between marriage and non-marriage, between dying or renouncing Christ to take care of one’s family. He says: “But every man hath his proper gift of God. One after this manner and another after that.” Some of you as you face this possibility of death have the proper gift of God to stay single, others of you marriage is your gift of God and your ability to provide and care for your family. Paul thus does not exalt either celibacy or marriage. His concern is one’s ability to stand and die for Christ when the time comes. The present distress may have been in the mind of the Corinthian believers when they wrote to Paul. Certainly he calls attention to it. It was no academic question but an urgent request for God’s word as they faced potential death. [00:21:22]
Both First and Second Corinthians tell us of a rather...
Both First and Second Corinthians tell us of a rather grim feeling in Corinth. As non-Christians they would not have had to face such a crisis but now as Christians the closeness of death had an unsettling effect on them. In part their rebelliousness was perhaps traceable to this. Their concern opened the whole question of marriage and divorce and Paul in verses eight following as we shall see next week turns to such questions. Christian faith had opened up a new world of opportunities but also of threats and the Corinthian Christians had to be prepared to face up to them. Despite the undercurrent of resentment against Paul, the bearer of judgment and of bad news, the Corinthians still knew his importance. They ask their key questions of Paul because they know like it or not Paul’s answers would be faithful to the mandates of Christ the king. Let us pray.
Our Father, we thank Thee for Paul’s words. We thank Thee that in this world where trials and temptations ever confront us we are prepared for Thy word and by Thy spirit to give a faithful answer in our words and in our lives, in our actions. Give us joy in Thee in the face of all things, and a bold confidence that we are more than conquerors in Christ. In His name we pray, Amen. [00:24:05]
Are there any questions now about our lesson? Yes?...
Are there any questions now about our lesson? Yes?
[Woman speaking] Rush do you know if any of the early missionaries in the Book of Acts were single men?
[Rushdoony] No, Paul was almost alone apparently in being single. And he refers to the fact that the other apostles went about with their wives. Now there’s no reference to Timothy or Barnabus when they were with Paul having their wives with them. So they may not have been married. Timothy was still a rather young man at the time but it’s clear that most of the apostles were married. It was not an easy thing then nor is it an easy thing now to be a Christian. Those of you who were with us last night heard Monty Wilson describe when he went into China at the request of Christians they detained him for fourteen hours of interrogation. They took his bible away and he was thoroughly abused in the time that he was undergoing this ugly interrogation, men screaming at him in Chinese. Well, think of the courage it must have taken the Christians who invited him to go and to be with them. Men who have undergone imprisonment, men who knew in asking for Monty to help them, they themselves were exposing themselves to more persecution. [00:26:45]
As we go through this chapter we will see how Paul...
As we go through this chapter we will see how Paul deals with this earnest and urgent question from the Corinthian church. It’s relevant to our time because as you know the Christians in the Sudan are undergoing the most vicious kind of persecution. Women and children being taken and sold as slaves and men crucified. And Monty will be there with Peter Hammond before too long to meet with those Sudanese Christians. So the kind of situation Paul is talking about here still goes on in our time. If there are no further questions let us conclude with prayer.
Our Father we give thanks unto Thee that Thou hast given us Thy word a sure guide and Thy spirit to strengthen, comfort and bless us. Make us resolute in our faith, that day after day we will serve thee with all our heart, mind and being and rejoice in Thy so great salvation. 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.