Just added, a new message preached by J Stewart Gillespie from 1 Corinthians chapter 10 verse 31:
Outline notes are available from this message:
This section addresses the great issue of Christian Liberty
Liberty standing in distinction to legality (10:23)
The believer does not live his life according to rules
The believer lives by Gods Spirit (Roms 8:1ff), in conformity to Gods Word (Psalm 119:105)
What is legality?
Adding rules where there are none?
Living by rules rather than the Spirit!
The believer has liberty.
By liberty we do not mean freedom to slavery:
cf Romans 6:12ff
Freedom – to be Free – means nothing if you are but free in a prison!
The communist regimes of Lenin and Stalin claimed to have set millions free from oppression but it was a hollow freedom in a political prison!
Biblical freedom is not freedom in the prison of sin / slavery.
Freedom is freedom to live as God made you to live – for His Glory!
When men end up under a dictatorship of their own lusts today, that is not freedom!
4 Tests of Freedom:
1. Does it build me up? (v23)
2. Does it bless others? (v24)
3. Does it bring Glory to God (v31)?
4. Does it bring others to Gods Glory? (v33)
1. Does it build me up? (v23)
That Christian behaviour is not constrained by law is not to say that Christian behaviour is not constrained!
‘expediency’ : sumphero: ‘sun’ – together and ‘pheo’ – to bring – to bring it together
‘edification’ : oikodomeo: to build, construct
bring it together
build it up
1. ‘expedient’ – is a horizontal word
2. ‘edify’ – is a vertical word
1. Expedient – has to do with gathering together
2. Edify – has to do with building up
The order is significant
The distinction is real
They are distinct but complementary
We can discern them going hand in hand right the way through the Word of God:
First the gathering together and then
The building up
David brought together all that was needed for the temple (1 Chron 22:14)
Solomon would build the temple from that provision (1 Chron 22:6ff)
The Israelites would bring all the raw materials for the tabernacle (Exodus 25:1ff; 35:29)
Bezaleel would then build it (Exodus 35:30ff)
A little lad would bring of his 5 loaves and 2 fishes
The great miracle of feeding would be performed by the Lord
Whilst it goes beyond the context of 1 Corinthians chp 10; in the Christian life, individually, personally, we can see this pattern being worked out:
First – you gather together
Then – you build up
If we are going to build up we must first gather together
On a personal / individual way if we are going to build up one another, if we are going to build up the church, if we are going to preach the gospel, teach the younger ones, do a work for the Lord, there must first be a gathering together!
If there is no gathering together in time, prayer, study, then there will be no building up.
1 Corinthians 10:23 does not really have personal preparation as the context, although we can see this as a pattern and as an application.
The context in 1 Corinthians chp 10 was that of friction in the church, the bringing together then of verse 23 has an eye on that which would bring together the body of Christ (cf chp 1, 3 &12) rather than that which would cause schism and friction!
Their behaviour was splitting and fissuring the people of God apart (chps 1,3,8,10).
Here is a practical and sobering thought for these Corinthians:
personal vertical growth
is founded upon
collective horizontal growth
and then we
In despising one another with schism (chp 3) and trampling over one anothers conscience (chp 8 + 10) and envying one another (1 Co 12)
In causing all of that schism and disruption we destroy the very best environment for our own spiritual growth and prosperity.
We are part of the body of Christ; “and wither one member suffer all the members suffer with it.” (1 Co 12:26).
In despising one another, they destroy their own spiritual growth.
2. Does it bless others? (v24)
In great works of God, down through the generations there has been a selflessness in what has been done for God:
Moses leading the people of God through the wilderness for 40 years to a promised land which for much of that time he knew he would never see.
Joseph blesses his brothers with corn, food for the journey and their money back by Grace
David setting aside provisions for a temple he would never see built
In the self sacrificial service of Paul and Timothy (Phil 2:19-21)
Christ on the cross overshadowing it all; for the ultimate selflessness producing the ultimate riches, we need to look beyond all of that:
“For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich.” (2Co 8:9)
So 1 Co 10:24 is really simply a matter of discipleship and nothing more
In order to bless others I show respect for their conscience and their scruples (v28) and this forgo the exercise of this liberty (v28)
Each of the scenarios is examined:
1. Impersonal business transaction (v25) – purchased
2. Social setting with the unbeliever (v27) – provided
3. Social setting with a sensitive believer v28)
I ought to cause no offence to the unbeliever (v25-27) – I don’t subject the food I purchase nor the food I am provided with as a guest to a period of critical analyses.
Here is a very unusual reason for acting in this way; “for why is my liberty judged of another mans conscience” (v29)
What does this mean?
This answers one of the perennial problems facing us in the exercise of our liberty; ‘the psychology of Christian freedom.’
We have come across it over the years; there is a brother who enjoys a particular freedom, there is an objection raised, some friction arises over that liberty and so, the barriers go up; lines are drawn:
well there is no verse of scripture against it
no mention in the Bible about it
nothing wrong with it
doesn’t do me any harm
none of your business
But what really irks and piques the brothers pride:
who are you to take away my liberty?
Its a kind of righteous indignation drawn from the wells of conscience and the souls sense of fairness and righteousness; you are taking something from me, you are stealing something from me and its not fare.
Now here is the biblical answer to this, here is the biblical solution to this; to prevent not only our freedom being robbed but maybe even more importantly to prevent the friction and fall out that comes from the feeling that our freedom has been robbed.
We are going to:
Preserve Christian liberty by protecting Christian Liberty
We are going to prevent liberty from degenerating into:
Stumbling block (v32)
3. Does it bring Glory to God (v31)?
God has the habit of pulling out remarkable objects from the most unlikely of places:
God puts His treasure in sacks of corn (Gen 42:25ff)
Samuel finds Israels King out looking after the sheep
David finds the secret weapon of mass destruction, lieing unassumingly by the side of a brook – just a stone!
Elijah would find salvation in the home of a poverty striken widow woman!
God places His treasure in earthen vessels (2 Co 4:7)
God puts His lamp and His power in the pitchers of Gideon (Judges 7:20)
In the midst of suffering and despair, it is in Job that we shall read; “I know that my Redeemer liveth and that He shall stand on the later day upon the earth.”
Israel would find that something good could indeed come out of Nazareth
Peter would find a piece of money in a fishes mouth (Matt 17:27)
The Ethiopian eunuch, Ebed-melech, would find Jeremiah the prophet down a well (Jeremiah 38:6)
The Lord would go one better than all of that, that Lord isn’t going to be outdone by that; if Peter can pull a coin out of a fishes mouth and Ebed-melech can pull a prophet out of a well, then God is able to pull a prophet out of a fishes mouth – praise the Lord for that!
And so here in 1 Corinthians, don’t miss it!
Against the background of:
Moral failure (chp 5)
Material failure (chp 6)
marital problems (chp 7)
Ecclesiastical error (chps 10 to 14)
Doctrinal error (chp 15)
Arises one of the deepest and most helpful nuggets of Divine truth for practical Christian living: “whatsoever you do, do all to the Glory of God.”
Here is the powerful:
by which Christ lived (John 17:4) – To Glorify God
In which the Father delighted (Heb 5:5)
by which the Spirit operated (John 16:14)
Here is a principle to:
Live by (Rom 15:6; 1 Co 6:20)
Die for (John 21:19)
Suffer for (1 Peter 4:10)
Could there be a more:
Inclusive verse of scripture; “whatsoever ye do…”
Practical verse of scripture; “eat or drink, or whatsoever ye do..”
Uplifting verse of scripture; “do all to the Glory of God..”
This means that it must be possible in our life to do what we legitimately do to the Glory of God
This makes the division between the secular and the spiritual, purely arbitrary and misleading.
This is important, so that as believers we don’t have that perspective on our life that we live our life in 2 parts:
1. The useful and productive and meaningful – the spiritual part
2. The useless and unproductive and meaningless – the secular part
If we develop that view we become like the ungodly who go to work out of necessity, dividing their lives into what they have to do and what they want to do.
Some have accomplished great and mighty deeds for Gods Glory!
Built an ark for the salvation of the world
Led a nation to the promised land
Established a Kingdom
Built a temple
You say I can see that as the Glory of God fills that tabernacle (Exodus 40:34) – there were no atheists there that day – that Moses has done something for Gods Glory.
I can see that as the Glory of God fills the temple – there were no atheists there that day – that (2 Chron 5:14) Solomon has done something great for Gods glory.
I can see that as the proclamation of Daniels God is made to the whole world (Daniel 6:25ff) – there were no atheists there that day – that Daniel has done something for the Glory of God in passing through the lions den!
But here in 1 Co 10:31 – the pursuit of the Glory of God is possible not only in the:
but in the:
Not only in the ordinary, but in the utterly mundane:
“ye eat or drink…”
Is that possible? To eat and drink to the Glory of God?
Consider 1 Samuel 17:17ff:
David instructed by Jesse to carry:
ephah of parched corn
I’ve often thought of the significance of that apparently inconsequential detail, when reading the great events of 1 Samuel 17.
Why is it there?
What does it mean?
Is it a type?
Bread and cheese? A cheese sandwich?
An illustration maybe of ‘blessed are the piece makers?’
Is it inconsequential?
The consequence of taking a piece to his brothers is the rest of 1 Samuel 17!
The defeat of Goliath and ultimately the claiming of the throne of Israel was a side of effect of running an errand to carry bread and cheese to his brothers!
Even more than this!
As you move through 1 Samuel 17 you find that so much of the ordinary and every day details of the life of David has fed into this great victory of 1 Samuel 17.
It is in the ordinary events of life that David:
1. Enjoys Gods Guidance: It is by the authoritative direction of his father (1Sam 17:17) in a mundane matter of life that permits David to be in the right place, at the right time! Maybe it is an argument from silence, but there seems to have been no prayerful soul searching about wither or not he ought to go to the valley of Elah and face Goliath. I’m not suggesting that we ought not to seek the mind of God in facing Goliath! What I am saying is this, that Davids destiny comes at the end of his delivery job in bringing bread and cheese to his brothers. God takes him, lifts him, moves him by the irresistible demands of ordinary necessity to place him where he wants him!
That path which would transform David from shepherd to soldier and sovereign and psalmist would be introduced simply as; ‘go and deliver this cheese.’ The point of it is this, many of us may well have been quite happy to go on an errand which was introduced to us as, ‘go and get crowned king,’ or ‘go and be the greatest poet in the bible,’ or ‘go and write messianic prophecies that will endure for eternity,’ but many of us may not be just quite as happy with, ‘go and deliver some cheese.’ This simple secular task and pursuit was the means by which God would guide David into His purposes for him.
The mundane can be the bread and butter of Divine guidance!
I’m not always:
Sensitive enough to the mind / will of God
Obedient enough to the mind / will of God
Listening enough to the mind / will of God
Willing enough to obey the mind / will of God
and so therefore at times God uses secular means to life and place His people, where and when He wants them; cf. The persecution and scattering in the early days of the Acts.
2. Experiences Gods Grace: David had experienced the Grace of God in the ordinary shepherding experiences of life (1 Sam17:34ff) leading to expectation of further grace and help from his God (1Sam17:37ff). Before the athlete goes out to run the race in public, there will be a lot of training done in private, in ordinary and mundane places.
3. Expresses Gods Glory (1 Sam 17:46ff)
It is in the ordinary, mundane things of life, that it is possible to honour God and live for His glory!
Literally to eat and drink to the Glory of God!
The point is this:
If Jesse had said; ‘I want someone to volunteer to do a great work for God, to deliver his people, claim the throne, marry a princess and establish a kingdom,’ he may have had a volunteer or two stepping forward!
What was actually said was something nearer akin to; ‘I need someone to deliver some bread and cheese.’
If the Lord said to you…
Yet it is delivering that bread and cheese that ushers in one of the most glorious periods of OT history (1 Sam 17:46ff).
Sometimes you see it is easier to get volunteers to take a conference, or lead a work, than it is to cut the grass or hoover the carpets!
What can be done to the Glory of God?
Build a tabernacle (Ex 29:43; 40:34,35)
Build a temple (1 Kings 8:17-18,20; 2 Chron 7:1)
Build a Kingdom
Yes you can do big things for Gods Glory
You can also:
Raise a son for Gods Glory – Hannah
You can mourn to Gods Glory – Mary and Martha – (John 11:4)
You can obey Gods Word to Gods Glory (Acts 13:48)
The most common means in the Gospel in which men glorified God was to be what God had made them to be by His power:
Speak by His Power – Matthew 15:31
Walk by His Power – Matthew 15:31
Talk by His Power – Matthew 15:31
To live every part of the ordinary life by His Power!
To be what God made us to be (Psalm 19:19); “the heavens declare the Glory of God”
To be what God meant me to be
To think what God meant me to think
To do what God fitted me to do
To reach the potential God made me to reach
To speak the words God gave me to speak
To live the life God fits me to live
To love the way God intends me to love
To climb those mountains God gave me to climb
To serve with the fervency God Gave me to serve
To sing words God delights me to sing
To be where God wants me to be
That brings Glory to God