Unity and Order Among God’s People

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Unity and Order Among God’s People


For I want you to know, brothers, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, (1Co 10:1-2)

Even though the Israelites had received all kinds of blessings, miracle confirmations of God’s power, and sacraments, nonetheless they perished because of their love of the world and rejection of God and His Word. To be baptized into Moses was to be placed under his leadership and ministry, and is a foreshadowing of our baptism in Christ. For the Israelite baptism refers initially to the salvation they had from Pharaoh, but pointed even further to the salvation from sin that we have in Christ. Baptism is no guarantee of salvation if unaccompanied by faith, which involves a devotion and submission to Christ through His Word.

Consider the object of your faith today. Strive by God’s Spirit to keep Jesus Christ as the object of your faith. Walk circumspectly so as to ensure that all other things in your life fall under the great banner of loving and serving Christ.

and all ate the same spiritual food, (1Co 10:3)

Spiritual food’ is a reference to the manna that the Israelites ate while in the wilderness. Just as the previous verse speaks of a baptism in Moses, this verse speaks of spiritual food, and the next verse speaks of spiritual drink. This shows that the reference is not merely what happened in the day of Moses, but there’s a parallel being drawn between what happened then and the sacraments that the Church is now blessed with ‘ Baptism and the Lord’s Supper.

We can learn from the previous passage that baptism doesn’t guarantee salvation, and we learn from the current verse that a confessing Christian who partakes of the Lord’s Supper is also not guaranteed of salvation. Paul’s point here is that even though these events in the time of Moses, which prefigure our sacraments, were an awesome testimony to those in the covenant community, most of the community still perished in unbelief.

Today let’s reflect on the necessity of faith in saving us. Let’s consider ways to nourish that faith so that it may grow healthy and vibrant. Let’s be careful not to make church membership, Sunday attendance, or the taking of the sacraments the object of our faith and the assurance of our salvation’but let’s keep that object and assurance on Christ and the promises that we have in Him.

and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ. Nevertheless, with most of them God was not pleased, for they were overthrown in the wilderness. Now these things took place as examples for us, that we might not desire evil as they did. (1Co 10:4-6)

We should not interpret Scripture within a dispensational framework. This kind of framework suggests that there was no grace during the Old Testament (OT)…that it was a new dispensation found only in the New Testament. The OT people of God were saved in the same way we are’by grace through faith in Christ. The difference is that their faith was shown by participating in the shadows of the ceremonial laws that were fulfilled and perfected in Christ. They weren’t saved by the blood of the animals that they sacrificed, but only as these sacrifices pointed to the Christ who was to come.

For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. (Heb 10:4)

Therefore the pre-incarnate Christ was with the OT people of God different ways. 1 Cor 10:4 is a reference to Ex 17:6 and other places in the OT where water was miraculously supplied to the Israelites. Paul is speaking sacramentally and therefore implying that this literal provision of water signified salvation that comes by faith in Christ alone. Many in the OT community of faith were destroyed by God because they offended Him by their lusts. Paul says that these things happened for examples to us, that we would not desire evil as they did. We must have a living faith, just as they needed in the OT, if we are to be saved. We can’t rely on anything other than Christ for our salvation.

Give thanks to God today for all the wonderful provisions that are yours in Christ, and ask God’s forgiveness for your former lack of gratitude and taking things for granted especially those sacraments that are a sign and seal of the grace of Christ.

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. (1Co 10:13)

God is the one who provides the way to escape’ from our temptations and trials. He can do this in many different ways depending on the situation, as all things are at God’s disposal. Though each situation is different, God will enable us to so persevere as He works in us to will and to do of His good pleasure. God controls everything in His providence and so He is able to bring relief for His people so that they will not be defeated by temptations and struggles, but rather victorious in Christ for the glory of God.

If you are dealing with struggles in your life, take them to God with the faith that He will sustain you through the trying times. He is with you and will not forsake you. Also keep in mind that you are not alone, many in the Body of Christ have been through or are going through what you are struggling with. Open your heart to some trusted soul in your church and begin to support each other with prayer and admonition, building each other up in Christ and for His purpose. Paul himself suffered greatly, even in loneliness’

At my first defense no one came to stand by me, but all deserted me. May it not be charged against them! But the Lord stood by me and strengthened me, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. So I was rescued from the lion’s mouth. The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed and bring me safely into his heavenly kingdom. To him be the glory forever and ever. Amen. (2Ti 4:16-18)

Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry. (1Co 10:14)

It’s easy to be critical and judge others for sins that they are in bondage to, but not so easy to do what Paul does here ‘ show love while admonishing others. Paul calls his readers my beloved’not beloved of God’not beloved’but, MY beloved. What a wonderful affection Paul had for them, even in the midst of admonishing them to flee from idolatry. Paul is actually warning them of idolatry because of his love for them’it’s a proactive love, a love that moves Paul to be concerned for their spiritual health.

Notice also that we are to be responsible and take the action to flee from idolatry. As children of God, we will persevere in the faith’but our faith is not to be in our perseverance, but rather in Jesus Christ. And as our faith is placed on Christ we are compelled by our love for Him to obey His command to flee from idolatry. It’s always a mistake to consider sins trivial because the blood of Christ paid for them’Christ did not go through all that He went through so that we would remain in bondage to sin, but rather so that we would be freed from it.

Idolatry is putting something in place of God in your life. Prayerfully examine yourself to see if you are being influenced and motivated by something other than God’s will as declared in His Word. Some idols that we wrestle with today are: culture, self-interest, praise of men, and love of others above the love of God. Watch over your heart, and treasure the fact that God sits as king upon the throne of your heart.

Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry. I speak as to sensible people; judge for yourselves what I say. The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread. (1Co 10:14-17)

Idolatrous fellowship is completely at odds with Christian fellowship as we see here with Paul’s teaching on the Lord’s Supper. Notice that he says that he speaks to sensible people’. By sensible’ he does not mean that they were schooled in the logic and wisdom of the world. A truly wise man is rather one who follows the teaching of Scripture (notice it’s following, not just learning the teaching of Scripture). These Corinthians had enough wisdom in the Word of God that they could understand the truth in Paul’s admonitions and his authority as an apostle of Christ.
Do you seek to learn from the Scriptures that are able to make you wise unto salvation? Is Scripture to you a thing to be learned or a thing to be lived? Commit yourself to living your life in complete conformity to the Word of God from a heart motivated by your love of God.

The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? (1Co 10:16)

In order to deal with those participating still in idolatry, Paul outlines what is taking place in the communion of Lord’s Supper. The bread and wine are the elements of the Lord’s Supper, the visible signs of invisible grace. The cup of wine is called the cup of blessing’ because it is consecrated for a holy use. We bless’ it by seeking God’s consecration as the celebration of the Supper is initiated. Drinking the cup, then, becomes a participation in the blood of Christ’. This word translated participation can also mean fellowship. Having a fellowship in the blood of Christ’ is clearly speaking of something spiritual happening during the Lord’s Supper. To fellowship with the blood of Christ can only mean to partake of or share in the benefits of His suffering represented by his shed blood. The same is true of the breaking of bread which is equally a participation [fellowship] in the body of Christ’.

There is a real fellowship with Christ to be had in the Lord’s Supper, but it is not a base material one as the Papists would have it. Rather, it’s a spiritual fellowship with Christ whereby those with true faith receive the grace of God. This grace can take a variety of forms, such as an increase in faith, greater power from God to overcome sin, etc. Beyond these graces we are also reminded that we have a very real fellowship with the sinless Son of God.

Knowing this intimate fellowship that we are called to, a holy fellowship with Christ Himself, how dare we participate in anything sinful! Let’s consider how we might best nurture our fellowship with Christ while starving out our fellowship with this world and its system.

Shall we provoke the Lord to jealousy? Are we stronger than he? (1Co 10:22)

Be careful not to provoke the Lord by putting more importance on other things’work, family, entertainment, etc. God is worthy of first importance in our lives, and He will not settle for anything less than full devotion to Himself. Our lives should be lived in a way where we strive to bring God glory in all that we do as we conform our lives to His Word, the Bible. Is every area of our life devoted to the glory of God? If not, then we know those areas are in rebellion to Him and will incur His provocation.

Our God is not indifferent, sitting in the clouds unobservant to the activities done here on earth. He is a God who is ever before us, searching not only our actions but also our thoughts. May God give us a holy conviction to do all things to His glory rather than stirring Him to jealousy.

So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. (1Co 10:31)

“All things are lawful,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful,” but not all things build up. Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor. (1Co 10:23-24)

Paul’s attitude here shows us the proper way to exercise our Christian liberty. He is contrasting what is lawful for him against what is good for his neighbor. It’s so easy to fall into the mindset of I have a right, but so difficult to have the mindset of what would benefit those around me regardless of my rights. I would even say that it goes beyond difficult and is actually impossible to have this mindset unless we are empowered to do so by the Holy Spirit who dwells within us. Naturally we are inclined to the me and mine mentality. Supernaturally we are given the inclination of you and yours.

Consider the right that Paul gave up ‘ the right to earn a living by the Gospel’

Or is it only Barnabas and I who have no right to refrain from working for a living?… If others share this rightful claim on you, do not we even more? Nevertheless, we have not made use of this right, but we endure anything rather than put an obstacle in the way of the gospel of Christ. (1Co 9:6,12)

Are you more concerned with your rights or with your responsibility to others? Husbands, are you more concerned that your wife submit to you or that you sacrificially love her? Wives, are you more concerned that your husband love you or that you submit to him as the Church submits to Christ? Parents, are you more concerned that your children obey you or that you do not provoke them to wrath?

We must be willing to give up our rights for the sake of others because we must care about others more than ourselves. Consider how you can serve others to the point of sacrifice today.

Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. (Php 2:3-4)

Eat whatever is sold in the meat market without raising any question on the ground of conscience. For “the earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof.” If one of the unbelievers invites you to dinner and you are disposed to go, eat whatever is set before you without raising any question on the ground of conscience. But if someone says to you, “This has been offered in sacrifice,” then do not eat it, for the sake of the one who informed you, and for the sake of conscience– (1Co 10:25-28)

The meat market was not just a place to buy and sell meat, but also a place to slaughter animals for meat. The pagans offered part of a beast for a sacrifice to idols and sold the rest in the meat market. Many Christians probably kept buying meat from these markets. If Christians today buy food that was dedicated to false gods we can still eat it without defiling our conscience so long as we don’t participate in the pagan superstitions attached to the ceremonies. We must also be concerned about the conscience of our brothers and sisters who are around us. Therefore, if some of them would be weakened by our eating of food that has been sacrificed to idols we should abstain from eating’for their sake, not ours. Our focus is not in the food, but in God who provides the food. That’s why all food is purified by pray and Scripture. Our focus is also on our brethren, not wanting to destroy those for whom Christ died for the sake of our bellies being filled.
We are to love God first, our neighbor next, and ourselves along with our appetites last of all’

And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” (Mat 22:37-40)

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. Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ. (1Co 10:32-11:1)

Paul was willing to not take advantage of his rights and the liberty that he had in Christ. In doing so he imitated Christ and His attitude towards ministry ‘ to treat those with tender consciences very carefully and lovingly. Christ Himself said’

“I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. (Joh 16:12)

If Christ Himself bears with our weak faith, how much more ought we to bear with one another? As you deal with people in your life today consider the mindset that Christ Himself had. Ask yourself if you are bearing with their weaknesses and coming along side them to lift them up…or if you are acting as the world’s system teaches by demanding more than they can bear.

For a man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God, but woman is the glory of man. (1Co 11:7)

Women are made in the image of God, so Paul is saying something other than what might first be thought when reading these words. In the context, Paul is telling us about men and women as being distinct rather than as humanity in general. Men and women are given different domains to work within, and different levels of authority to exercise in different situations.

When we seek to change God’s order of things and place our reasonable opinions upon the gender roles, rather than the order of God as revealed in Scripture, we end up obscuring the glorious order of God by which we can draw closer to Him.

Just as men brings glory to God by exercising his authority under God, so too women give men glory (glory of men) when they keep their place of subordination. And because the woman keeps God’s ordained order of things, this also brings glory to God.

Let us be ever striving to live a more biblically centered life and worship as we consider how so much of the Scriptures go against our culture in what they teach.

For man was not made from woman, but woman from man. Neither was man created for woman, but woman for man. (1Co 11:8-9)

Paul appeals to the order of creation itself, before the fall, as a reason for the woman being the glory of man and man being the glory of God. Not only does this give us an order between the genders in creation itself, it also speaks volumes to the veracity of the creation account, not holding it as mere allegory, but rather holding to it as a historical truth.

Many have said that a woman was to wear a head covering because of the culture of the time. But Paul does not give that as a reason, rather he appeals to the order of creation for his reasoning.
In a culture that seeks to take away the distinction between man and woman we must be careful that we don’t interpret these Scriptures according to our culture. Rather, women should strive to obtain the holy humility as the saintly women of the past in recognizing that they were made as helpers to men.

Then the LORD God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” (Gen 2:18)

For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands, as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. And you are her children, if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening. (1Pe 3:5-6)

Our culture would have us believe that this kind of subjection is tantamount to taking dignity and purpose away from women, but the Scriptures are clear that it is precisely in this subjection that women are to find their dignity and purpose.

Consider today how you might encourage a woman you know to consider the glory of her God-given role.

That is why a wife ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels. (1Co 11:10)

After telling us that the woman was made for the man, we see here that she is to have a symbol of authority on her head. The idea behind this is that she would wear a covering as a symbol of the man’s power over her. Notice that the reason for such a covering is given’and it’s not culture. Rather the reason that a woman is to cover her head is because of the angels. It’s an amazing thing to consider that angels are with us when we worship, and that because they are with us and we are with the heavenly host, a certain order must be adhered to according to God’s will. If angels would be offended at us breaking God’s order in this area, consider how much more God would be offended.

Is there anything in your church life or private life which might offend God? If so, pray for God’s strength to put things in order’God’s order.

Nevertheless, in the Lord woman is not independent of man nor man of woman; (1Co 11:11)

Here Paul gives us a corrective to the unbalanced view that his previous words could bring about. Sinful men have a tendency to look at the distinction between men and women, the order that was established by God at creation, and pride puffs him up to think that he is superior to the woman. When men think they are above women in essence, they are acting just as wickedly as women who seek to throw off the order that God has established.

In the Lord we are dependent upon each other, we need each other. Having a distinct difference in roles does not at all imply a difference in importance or value. Consider that there is even a distinct difference in roles within the Godhead, yet no person in the Godhead is less important than the other. Even though women are not called to lead in the place of men, the Scriptures are very clear that their contributions are very important to God. There are many women of the faith who are considered pleasing to God, and that is of utmost importance. Consider Deborah (judge of Israel), Jael (smote Sisera), and Mary (the first one sent with the Gospel message by the resurrected Lord).

As men look down upon the role of women, they will be less satisfied in their roles as they feel demeaned in them. As women strive to take on roles that are outside of God’s order and stop encouraging others to take up their biblical roles, they have little satisfaction in the Lord.
Men: pray for the women in your life, and appreciate their God-given roles, understanding that to despise their role is to despise the very order that God has given us.

Women: pray for other women and encourage one another in your God-given roles.

But in the following instructions I do not approve of you, because you come together not for the better but as Esau did. For, in the first place, when you assemble as a church, I hear that there are schisms among you. And to some degree I believe it, for there must be a choice by you in order that those who are accepted among you may be apparent. (1Co 11:17-19)*
It is sad, indeed, that the Body of Christ has such division within it. Both at the denominational/church-wide level, and at the local church level. Each denomination and each person within a church strives for their interpretation of Scripture, believing that they have the true understanding of Scripture and those who don’t agree are flat out wrong.

As we read in our passage, these kinds of divisions must take place so that we can make a distinction and choose the true while rejecting the false. The rule that we must hold everything up to is the Word of God. When certain divisions come about from a false interpretation of Scripture, invariably they will lead to more obvious issues. Though these divisions may start with subtle differences, they will many times grow into more obvious ones.

The Catholic church is a good example of a false church. The divisions that the Catholic church separated on grew into more grievous and obvious doctrinal errors. The distinguishing teachings of the Catholic church did not come from Scripture, and in fact were contrary to it. We must look to the Word of God to define our doctrines and not the teachings of men.
There are great ways to become familiar with the doctrines of the Bible:

  • Daily reading and meditating on the Word of God
  • Reading theologies by men who have been proven to rightly divide the Scriptures
  • Praying for God to grant you wisdom as you study His doctrines.

*my translation

When you come together, it is not the Lord’s supper that you eat. For in eating, each one goes ahead with his own meal. One goes hungry, another gets drunk. What! Do you not have houses 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 commend you in this? No, I will not. (1Co 11:20-22)

In spite of the schisms the Corinthians still met together for the Lord’s Supper. Here, Paul rebukes them for taking the Lord’s Supper in an unworthy manner. Rather than the solemn taking of bread and wine in remembrance of the death of Christ they had feasts which sometimes led to drunkenness and the exclusion of others who were hungry. What a perversion of the sacrament! Paul specifically says that they are despising the Church of God when they do this.

It’s quite likely that this abuse of the sacrament happened because the Corinthians brought pagan practices into the Church’they were modeling the practices of the Church after popular culture.
Can you think of modern examples of bringing secular or pagan culture into the church? Do women find their beauty in their obedience to Christ? Do men find their glory in Christ who is their head? Do women gather before worship and comment on each other’s dresses and shoes’or do they speak of how God is working in their life? Do men gather before worship to talk about sports, their job, etc’or do they come together to speak of how Christ is giving them victory in their life and they ways that others can pray for them in areas where they struggle?

This week consider whether you or your church is influenced by the culture in a manner which might also deserve Paul’s rebuke. And if this is the case, take steps to resolve the issue without delay.

For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, 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.” In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” (1Co 11:23-25)

After admonishing the Corinthians for their abuse of the Lord’s Supper, he now reveals to them the proper way to celebrate the sacrament. He ties the Lord’s Supper to the originating fount of Christ’s Last Supper, the very night that our Lord was betrayed.

What a beautiful simplicity that the sacrament has to it! The Lord did not leave us with pages of ritual, but rather with the simple practice of eating and drinking in remembrance of Christ. And as believers partake in the Lord’s Supper, the Holy Spirit does really seal us with the graces of Christ.
This is quite a different practice from the Roman Catholics, who replace the simplicity of the Lord’s Supper with the idolatrous Mass. I don’t use the word idolatrous lightly, but with the understanding that the Roman Mass looks at the bread and wine as being the actual physical body of our Lord. We do not, as the Catholics do, adore the elements of the sacrament ‘ the bread and wine ‘ but rather, we adore Christ whom they represent.

This corrective is given to the Corinthians so that they will get back to the reason of the sacrament ‘ meeting together to worship God and give Him glory for the great salvation that He purchased for us at such a high cost.

The bread represents the body of Christ broken for us. Consider the love that Christ has for those who are His, consider that He went to the cross and gave His life willingly for the joy that was set before Him, the joy of our salvation.

Are you living in the joy of your salvation? Consider what Christ went through, looking forward to that joy. If you don’t have such joy, meditate on the promises of God given to us in Christ. As you look upon these promises, ask God to restore your joy.

The LORD is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot. The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance. I bless the LORD who gives me counsel; in the night also my heart instructs me. I have set the LORD always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices; my flesh also dwells secure. For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol, or let your holy one see corruption. You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore. (Psa 16:5-11)

In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” (1Co 11:25)

When Christ uses the word covenant He shows us that there are promises attached to the sacrament since covenants contained promises. This is why we look at the Lord’s Supper as not just a symbol, but a seal and a symbol. The Holy Spirit does actually work through the sacrament to seal the graces of Christ to us because it is a covenant betwixt God and us.
There is a blessed communion with our Lord that takes place at the Lord’s Supper, as can be seen in’

The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? (1Co 10:16)

This communion is an actual communication of the promises of God through the power of the Holy Spirit. Because of this, the Lord’s Supper gives us a greater assurance of our salvation and strengthens our faith.

Thank God that He has given us this means of grace to draw close to Him! If we were left to our own devices, we would most certainly pervert the way of God and end up driving a wedge between God and us. But in God’s mercy, He has given us a holy and acceptable way of being strengthened by His grace in this sacrament.

In the Lord’s Supper we not only look back in remembrance upon the salvation that was wrought in the death of Christ, but also rely upon God even now for our continued salvation from this world, the flesh, and the Devil. The blood of Christ not only paid for our sins, but also strengthens us in our walk with God presently.

Thank God that He gives us this sign and seal as a means of conveying His gracious promises to us!

For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. (1Co 11:26)

One of the things that the Lord’s Supper was established for is a permanent memorial of the death of Christ. Note that God gives us this sacrament to be a memorial of Christ’s death, and not the Easter holiday which is man-made. God does not want us to memorialize Christ’s death once a year, but rather as often as we partake of the Lord’s Supper.

Since we partake of the Lord’s Supper until the Lord returns, we are also reminded that the day is coming when Christ will come in judgment and will vindicate His Church against all that has aligned itself against it. This will be the day of resurrection, of the finality of our salvation in receiving not only resurrected souls (as we have now), but also resurrected bodies!

So when the Lord’s Supper is observed Christ is magnified’both in His death for the elect, and in His return to perfect that which He started.

No matter what you may be going through, God is faithful. He has redeemed us by the blood of Christ, and He will return, and we will be resurrected. As you encounter strife today, think upon this eternal perspective of the promises of God.

so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift, as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. (1Co 1:7-9)


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