(1 Corinthians 12:4-6)
These verses teach us many things and one of the most important is about the nature of the person of God. There is a foundational truth in these few verses that goes deep into the heart of what we as Christians believe.
Who is God? More specifically who is the God worshipped in Christianity? Is it the god of the trinity that is so strongly held by almost all Christians sects, denominations and faiths or is the true God someone else?
This is an important issue and one that must be discussed and addressed for if we are wrong, we may be worshiping a myth and a lie. If the God we worship is not in fact the God of truth, then who or what are we worshiping?
(1 Corinthians 12:1-3)
Many years ago while my father was still alive he said to me that we need to take note of the “little” words in the Bible. It is often the small words that we can pass over at a glance that convey a depth of meaning we would miss otherwise.
I have repeated this same good advice to others on many occasions, and in this short section of scripture there is a case in point worth looking at to illustrate this point.
It is often in the small, insignificant words that we get the full and true meaning of the text. The particular verse in this section I am referring to is verse 3, which says,
Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking in the Spirit of God ever says “Jesus is accursed!” and no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except in the Holy Spirit. – (1 Corinthians 12:3)
(1 Corinthians 11:27-34)
There are a few traditions defined in the New Testament that the Lord gave us to follow. These are all actions and acts of praise or worship that define the methods of our worship of the Lord.
The primary few, and there are not many, are:
- Baptism in water
- Laying on of hands to receive the Holy Spirit
- Anointing with oil for healing
- Breaking of bread or communion
In this section of scripture, Paul is concerned with people who carry out the act of breaking bread in an unworthy manner. But the principle of following any of the traditions of the Lord in an unworthy manner will likewise incur judgment.
(1 Corinthians 11:20-26)
Whether you call it eating the Lords Supper, taking communion, breaking bread or any of the other names for this sacrament of the church, it is important to understand what it is and why we do it.
Over the years I have visited a number of different churches in my travels and I have been amazed at the number of churches that do not uphold this practice. I do not know whether they feel it is unimportant or unnecessary, but for whatever reason they fail to follow this practice.
And we should understand first and foremost that the practice of breaking bread or taking communion was ordained not by men, but by the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. It was He who commanded the disciples to do this and to ensure this tradition was passed on into the churches as the church grew.
(1 Corinthians 11:17-19)
One of the greatest issues in the church over the many years of its history has been the problems of division. Consider the church as it exists today in its many forms. Who knows exactly how many denominations, groups, sects and independent churches there are in the world today.
And yet when we look back, it all began with just one group and just one church.
Jesus came and presented man with the teachings that established the first church, which He set up through the twelve apostles. But after Jesus returned to the Father we began to see the gradual disintegration of the early church into sects and factions. Many of the New Testament writers wrote of this issue and here we see Paul explaining part of the reason why divisions occurred.
(1 Corinthians 11:2-16)
There was a practice in the church for many years where women were expected to wear some kind of head covering when they attended church. This practice has weakened and pretty much disappeared today, but even so there are some churches that still hold to this tradition quite strongly.
To veil or not to veil
Much of the argument for this tradition comes out of this section of scripture. But is it what the scripture is truly saying? Does a woman have to wear a veil or a hat or some other kind of head covering today?
The question is probably even more compelling given the rise of Islam and the requirement of that religion for women to not just wear hats or veils, but to fully cover their faces with the burka. Now I do not intend to get into the discussion over whether the burka is right or wrong as my focus is not about what is done in Islam, but rather what is practiced in the name of Jesus Christ and the Christian churches. So let us look at this scripture to try to understand what Paul was driving at.
(1 Corinthians 11:1)
Imitate Christ and be transformed for real
Now here is an interesting scripture in the bible. It says,
Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ. – (1 Corinthians 11:1)
What thoughts are conjured up in your mind when you think of being an “imitator” or an imitation of someone or something else? Do you perhaps think of such things as false, fake, unreal, cheap and nasty?
Those are the types of things that often come to mind when we look at imitation. But this is not what Paul was talking about in this verse, and there is an important lesson we must learn here.
(1 Corinthians 10:25-33)
Here is a question for you. If you knew Jesus was looking over your shoulder every minute of the day, would you do anything differently?
All to the glory of God
I hope the answer you gave to yourself was “no.” But if it wasn't, then consider what you might need to do to change.
The focus of this section of scripture is this: Do all things to the glory of God.
It doesn't matter what you do as you wander the days of your life, everything you do or say should be uplifting and glorifying to God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. But how?
(1 Corinthians 10:23-24)
A number of things come to mind as I read these two verses. First is the stark contrast between the old and the ne covenants, especially as they were interpreted and put into practice by both the Pharisees and Jesus Christ respectively.
Law versus Love
The Pharisees strictly applied the letter of the law, but without love. Their approach was without compassion, mercy or judgement. On the contrary, Jesus kept the law also but both preached and showed by His actions how it should be interpreted from the basis of faith, mercy, compassion, justice and most importantly, love.
The second thing that occurred to me as I read this is how wrong it is when many so-called Christians deliberately misinterpret the freedom from law we have in Christ Jesus by faith, and promote licentiousness. Paul is quite explicit in these two verses that this is not the purpose or function of freedom from law.
(1 Corinthians 10:14-22)
All of the things the Lord taught His disciples and requested them to pass on to the disciples they made for Him were done for a purpose. Nothing the Lord asks, did or gave to man is without reason or without purpose.
Breaking bread and communion
One of the key things Jesus taught the disciples to do was the breaking of bread, or taking communion as it is referred to in many churches. And like all the things the Lord taught us, it is important we understand what it is and why we do it. Otherwise it becomes a meaningless thing done by rote that has no meaning for those doing it.
This section of scripture is one of those that explains just exactly what breaking of bread is and what it means to those who take it.