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Finding Stability at the Table of the Lord

1 Corinthians 10:14-22 “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. Consider the people of Israel: are not those who eat the sacrifices participants in the altar? What do I imply then? That food offered to idols is anything, or that an idol is anything? No, I imply that what pagans sacrifice they offer to demons and not to God. I do not want you to be participants with demons. You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons. You cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons. Shall we provoke the Lord to jealousy? Are we stronger than he?”

Intro: Scaffolding… The goal of strength is not falling.

The real test for God’s people is this: will you be obedient to the Word of God, and are you going root out the sin in your heart. The Holy Spirit doesn’t bless people that are not Holy.

“I have never yet known the Spirit of God to work where the Lord's people were divided.” - Dwight L. Moody

The body of Christ is like a structure, but the integrity of the Corinthian fellowship was collapsing....there were many in the church who thought they were mature, and established, and were actually causing weaker brothers to stumble. They had freedoms, but Paul was saying even though you are free, sometimes there are more important things at stake.

For Paul this is precisely the case. First it was sexual immorality, and now idolatry. The therefore (dioper) introduced Paul’s conclusive application of our freedoms and responsibilities in these things. They thought they were mature, they thought they were spiritual. But how they respond to his words would reveal it. You want to know the real stability and strength of the church???

How do you determine the strength of a church? How do you know we are strong? How will we grow stronger as a church? There are three factors to consider.

1. We will only be as strong as our experiential fellowship in the purposes of Christ (V16)

  • 1 Cor 5:6-8

  • 1 Cor 10:16-22

  • 1 Cor 11:17-33

The pagan sacrifices to idols in Corinth were a tough issue for the church.

partake/participation: koinia, fellowship...

“[The Lord’s Supper] is a visible sermon.”

Ex 12:7-13 13 The blood shall be a sign for you, on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and no plague will befall you to destroy you, when I strike the land of Egypt.

  • Heb 9:22 “Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.”

  • Rev 1:5 “and from Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood”

  • Isaiah 1:18 ““Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.”

  • Eph 1:7 “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace,”

God is removing guilt and forgiving sin and making peace and establishing fellowship with all who believe. And the purpose of the Lord's Supper is to receive from Christ the nourishment and strength and hope and joy that come from feasting our souls on all that he purchased for us on the cross, especially his own fellowship. We share in the body and the blood by sharing in the benefits that they bought

2. We will only be as strong as the unified/eclectic fellowship of the people of Christ. (V17)

"The New Testament makes a special point of the fact that Jesus’ body was not broken on the cross. “For these things came to pass, that the Scripture might be fulfilled, ‘Not a bone of Him shall be broken’ ” (John 19:36). The bread represents Christ’s body, but the breaking of the bread does not represent the breaking of His body, because that never took place." Jesus broke the bread in order to distribute it among the disciples, representing His sharing His life with them.’’’ John MacArthur

Yes diversity:

  • Different ethnicities: 1 Cor 12:13-14 “For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit. For the body does not consist of one member but of many.”

  • Different gifts: 1 Cor 12:4-5 “Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord;”

  • Different backgrounds: 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 “...sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”

but also a uniformity: Remember how he started the letter -

  • 1 Cor 1:9-10 “God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment.”

"It is given for the confirmation of the faith of believers in all the benefits of Christ’s death, their spiritual nourishment and growth in him, and their further engagement in and to all the duties they owe him. The supper is to be a bond and pledge of their communion with Christ and each other.” - 1689 Baptist Confession:”
Satan always hates Christian fellowship; it is his policy to keep Christians apart. Anything which can divide saints from one another he delights in. He attaches far more importance to godly intercourse than we do. Since union is strength, he does his best to promote separation.- Charles Spurgeon

Acts 2:42

You see this in Acts 2:42, they gathered in one another’s home for the breaking of bread. In Acts 20:7, when they were gathered on the first day of the week to break bread.

3. We will only be as strong as the exclusive fellowship with the person of Christ. (V21)

There were, of course, idol temples in Corinth. On the hill behind the city was the temple of Aphrodite where 1,000 male and female prostitutes plied their trade in the name of the worship of Venus, the goddess of love. Within the city itself were scattered many temples; their ruins are still visible today. These Christians had once been idol worshipers, bowing down before these images, offering sacrifices to them, their lives being controlled by the fear and the philosophy of the Greek and the Roman pantheons of gods.

What is behind all of this lure of otherwise innocent things? The apostle's answer is, demonic control.

The demons here in greek are referring to second rate deities. Demonic for sure, but second rate deities.

  • Exodus 20:5 You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me,

  • Exodus 34:14—for you shall not worship any other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God—

  • Deuteronomy 4:24 For the Lord your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God.

  • Deuteronomy 4:23-24 So watch yourselves, that you do not forget the covenant of the Lord your God which He made with you, and make for yourselves a graven image in the form of anything against which the Lord your God has commanded you. For the Lord your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God.

1 Cor 10:22 ἢ παραζηλοῦμεν τ. κύριον or shall we provoke the Lord to jealousy? i.e. by being untrue to him and turning to second-rate divinities (daemons). The rhetorical structure here relies heavily on Gr-Rom. understanding that a δαίμων is a service-oriented divinity of a second order... With sharp satire Paul says that God has reason to be jealous if the Corinthians engage in civil feasts where sacrifice is made to mere secondary divinities.... The Corinthians are in effect insulting ‘the Lord’.” - A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, 3rd ed. (παραζηλόω)

1 Cor 6:19-20 “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.”

“It was wonderful love that Christ should rather die for us than for the angels that fell. They were creatures of a more noble extract, and in all probability might have brought greater revenues of glory to God; yet that Christ should pass by those golden vessels, and make us clods of earth into stars of glory -- Oh, the hyperbole of Christ's love!” Thomas Watson, The Lord's Supper

1 John 1:7 “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.”

God wants clear and unambiguous allegiance to him…

Conclusion: How stable are you/we?

You never have to advertise a fire. Everyone comes running when there's a fire. Likewise, if your church is on fire, you will not have to advertise it. The community will already know it.- Leonard Ravenhill

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