Just added, a new message preached by Dr J Stewart Gillespie:
Recordings of Gospel messages preached by Dr J Stewart Gillespie in 2017:
Just added, a new message preached by Mr Jim Armstrong:
Baptism of Marian McBryde and a recording of the message preached on that occasion from Acts chapter 8 by J Stewart Gillespie:
Just added; a new message preached from 1 Corinthians chapter 8:
Outline notes for this message:
Maybe for us today a significant proportion of 1 Corinthians chp 8 may seem distant and far away – food offered to idols and idols temples
Yet the overall pattern of 1 Corinthians chapter 8 is immediately familiar:
- It begins with a disagreement
- It ends with a disaster
- It begins with a conflict
- It ends with a casualty
Sadly not only has the pattern been repeated over the years but so too the path to this disaster!
This may be an ancient text and yet there is something very personal about it; it is the story that we never give a platform to; not the testimony of how I came to Christ; but the sobering tale of how I wandered away and backslid from fellowship with Him!
Notice the path and pattern laid out here to destruction (8:11); it is a distinctive path to what we have elsewhere in the NT.
- Actions which are ‘self destructive’ – ie certain actions which will bring with them an automatic and built in destruction; ‘if you sow to the flesh of the flesh you shall reap destruction.’ Romans chp 1 – God gave them up to homosexuality, the judgement lay in God abandoning men to a lust which is of itself destructive:
- Dishonours (Rom 1:24)
- Disappoints (Rom 1:26)
- Disaster and Disease (Rom 1:27)
We see that in drugs and alcoholism – self destructive
- Actions which bring the judgement of God (1 Co 11:27ff; 1 Co 10:8)
- Actions which are triggers to ‘auto destruction’ – the destruction of self by self by the workings of the conscience; compromise becomes inner conflict which becomes catastrophe. From the compromise of a moment we reap the consequences for a lifetime!
- In the pressures of a moment Moses would strike the rock twice
- In the passions of a moment David would compromise a clean Spirit and pure heart and surrender the joy of his salvation
- In the pride of a moment David would number the people (2 Sam 24:15)
- In the persuasion of a moment – a prophet compromises the Word of God and eats where he ought not to eat (1 Kings 13)
- In the problems of a moment Peter will deny his Lord
Stronger than all of that?
- Than the patriarch Moses?
- Than the King David?
- Than the Prophet of 1 Kings 13?
- Than the Apostle Peter?
- Than the priest Aaron?
The compromise of a moment left:
- 70,000 people dead
- 2 princes dead
- a prophet dead
- Moses dead on Mount Nebo
Conscience at Corinth would present one final hurdle to happy dysfellowship – that is the dysfunctional fellowship of those not in mutual agreement!
The troubled conscience:
The troubled conscience:
Some had a conscience about meat offered to idols and som didn’t
Irrespective of who is right and who is wrong we straight away have an issue
What is conscience and why the difference
If you take your Theology form Walt Disney and maybe today many do, then you may well be of the view that:
‘conscience is that infallible God given ability to know the difference between right and wrong, to help us choose what is is right and reject what is bad.’
Thus Jiminy Cricket assures Pinnochio; ‘always let your conscience be your guide’
The only definite thing that we can say about this kind of an idea is that it is definitely wrong!
From: Proceedings and Papers of the Georgia Association of Historians:
Illust: India and the Raj, Lord William Bentinck outlawed Suttee in 1829; the practice of burning a living widow on the funeral pyre of her dead husband:
The son of a rich Rajput besought the British ‘resident’ to allow his mother to burn with her dead husbands body, it being a point of conscience with herself and her family, and the British government being famed for its regard for its peoples conscientious convictions; ‘Of course your mother may do as her conscience enjoins her replied the resident, ‘and you as her first born son may light the Suttee fire, Only then you must permit me to follow my conscience and my governments and hang you for murder’
Conscience then is:
- Not infallible – the illustration above points to that and we need not go out with the chapter to see this point – division at Corinth over the matter of conscience with food offered to idols in chapter 8 and consider the issue of 1 Corinthians chp 5 which some seem to have had little conscience about!
- Conscience is not creatorial and thus at least in its purest sense is not truly God given – Genesis chapter 3 is clear about that; conscience comes after the fall; it was not built in at creation.
- Conscience is not purely about knowing what is wrong! Eve in Genesis chp 3, in order to develop conscience it was not enough to be intellectually exposed to sin or evil:
- In Genesis 3:4 – Satan infers God is lying or is fallible – yet Eve does not develop conscience here
- In Genesis 3:5 – Satan imputes malice to God – yet eve does not develop conscience here
- In Genesis 3:6 – Adam sees that Eve has partaken of the fruit and yet this is not sufficient to trigger conscience in Adam.
- Eve can see no problem with a talking snake! What about the talking snake? That’s pretty suspect if you ask me. Did snakes talk? To form language you need a larynx, vocal cords, need to be able to modify those sounds with a tongue, soft and hard palate and lips, you need control over the air flow, diaphragm, lungs and neurological control, language centre Brocas area and Wernicke area of the brain. Snakes just don’t have all of that; so I would judge that a snake using human language was something not before encountered by Eve, yet it raised no suspicions! This was a corruption of creation in itself!
- Despite the intellectual exposure to sin, conscience does not develop!
- Conscience only develops when there is personal participation in evil.
Colin Anderson: Counsel: “conscience is the inner voice that approves or disapproves of what you have done or are thinking of doing it is more a judge than a guide”
cf. Roms 2:15
- Conscience does not necessarily empower us to choose what is right – it is more a judge than a guide – cf. Genesis 3:8 “Adam and his wife hid.” Conscience didn’t stop them from committing evil but my it certainly made them flee from what was good; the holiness of God! This can become a major disability when it comes to dealing with our sin, our failings; we flee from God rather than to God! “I was afraid” (Gen 3:10). Yet the soul that flees to God will find another kind of righteousness (Psalm 51:14)!
A conflict of conscience arising out of a conflict at Corinth over meat offered to idols
Not that the conflict over meat offered to idols was sincere; this was a carnal desire masquerading as an intellectual argument.
The conscience of some picks up a problem with food offered to idols, or perhaps anticipates where the flesh is going:
- “as touching things offered to idols” (8:1)
- “as concerning therefore the eating of those things that are offered in sacrifuce unto idols” (8:4)
- “sit at meat in the idols temple” (8:10)
- “neither be ye idolaters” (10:7)
- “neither let us commit fornication” (10:8)
In compromising their conscience; notice that they found disappointment (1 Co8:8) rather than the promised satisfaction!
Compromise was not all that it was cracked up to be!
The grass wasn’t greener on the other side after all!
Like Adam and Eve in the garden; the temptation was not worth the trouble it caused and the outcome was thoroughly disappointing!
This was an experience shared with:
- Achan and his riches from Jericho
- David and Bathsheba
- Judas and his 30 pieces of silver
Conscience had been brought to conflict by a path of:
- Deception (8:10)
- Defilement (8:7)
- Destruction (8:11)
Conscience can be deceived / tricked by many means:
- Pride – in the case of David when he numbers the people
- Passions – in the case of David as he breaks Gods moral code with Bathsheba
- Persuasion – the man of God in 1 Kings 13
- Persistance – Samson and Delilah
- Pressures of a moment – Peter as he denies the Lord
All of this leads to a conscience crying out:
- Forget it
- Cure – Psalm 51
I want to go beyond 1 Corinthians chp 8 to find the cure for the wounded conscience
We begin with the character and attributes of God (Psalm 51:1):
- God of mercy
- God of loving kindness
- God who is able to wash and cleans from sin
In the state of troubles conscience we are apt to recall the greatness and holiness of God and the smallness of ourselves and to be crushed in our spirit by that very thought.
Like the Corinthians we may also equally fail to follow through that same thought, a God who is unable to deal with failure and sin would hardly be a great and glorious God!
Gods greatness not only implies His holiness but also His ability to save and to deal with sin.
Gods mercy, love and cleansing power converge on:
- One person – Jesus Christ
- One place – Calvary
- One act – the offering of Jesus Christ for my sins
Consider in parallel with Psalm 51:1:
- Gods love – John 3:16; 1 John 4:10 – is in Christ
- Gods mercy – Titus 3:5-7 – is in Christ
- Gods power to cleans – Revelation 1:5 – is in Christ
I am not trying to persuade you that sin is not serious, quite the opposite!
I am not suggesting that God isn’t as great as you think He is, quite the opposite.
But simply; as you remember the greatness and holiness of Christ in the depths of your troubled conscience, don’t forget the greatness of Gods mercy, love and saving power in Christ!
How do we access this?
- Repentence (Psalm 5:3)
- of WHAT I am guilty of:
“my transgressions” (v3)
“my sin is ever before me”
a specific acknowledgement of my sin; not a vague generalisation about it!
- of WHY I am guilty of it:
Sin is not a purely personal matter
I have not only hurt myself
This is sin against God
- Renewal (Psalm 51:7ff)
Hyssop – the means of applying blood
This verse takes us back to the cleansing of the leper in Leviticus chapter 14
Blood – satisfies God
Water – cleanses and satisfies man
Christ is all sufficient
- His sacrifice satisfies God (Isaiah 53)
- His sacrifice satisfies man (Psalm 17:15; Jer 31:14)
- Restoration (Ps 51:12ff)
Restored to fellowship with God
Seeing His hand in my life
Hearing His voice
Restored to fellowship with God
We often stop at repentance and renewal; happy that we have assurance of the forgiveness of our sins and the prospect of another opportunity
God does not simply desire to undo sin!
God desires to undo sin for a purpose, to restore us to fellowship with Him!
If that fellowship is not restored I will return to my sin!
“the joy of the Lord is my strength”
“the joy of my salvation” (v12)
- Rejoicing (Ps 51:12)
From that enjoyment of Christ flows the most natural thing in the world / out of the world – evangelism!
“He that believeth in me as the scriptures have said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water”
Just added to our series on 1 Corinthians; a new message preached from 1 Corinthians chapter 8 verses 1 to 3:
notes available for this message:
“now as touching” (v1)
Another question answered by the apostle Paul
That this question arises at all highlights the fact that all is not well at Corinth
It is doubtful that the need ought ever to have arisen to ask this question about meat sacrificed to idols.
- The sensitive conscience wouldn’t have eaten food sacrificed to idols – no problem
- The spiritually minded wouldn’t have offended them by eating it – no problem
- But there was a problem!
If the situation was as those ‘in the know’ (8:1-2) concluded; namely a problem between those who are spiritually mature and who know better – namely us, and those who are not spiritually mature and who do not know what we know; namely those of a ‘weak conscience’ then the conflict ought to have been easily and quickly resolved by someone of spiritual maturity and understanding, if indeed that was where they were.
If the spiritually enlightened could really see that there was nothing (v4) in the idol and nothing in the meat and if those spiritually strong were really able to discern ‘weakness’ rather than difference of perspective (v7) in others, they as the spiritually mature ought to have been able to demonstrate how spiritually mature people deal with issues of no eternal consequence –
- Sensitively – With insight into the immaturity of the brother they are dealing with
- Sacrificially – With a willingness to sacrifice meat of no consequence for the spiritual prosperity of their brother
- Spiritually – esteeming the conscience of their brother, way above the food for their belly
Instead it became a:
- Stumbling block (8:9)
The spiritual elite lacked sensitivity, spirituality and a sacrificial spirit – they were not as spiritual as they thought they were!
The question seems to have been asked of Paul:
‘well Paul, you and I both know that these things offered to idols are nothing. ‘
‘we have been convicted and convinced of the truth that Jesus Christ is Lord; that there is but one God. ‘
We have heard how the true and living God speaks through His Word
‘ So we know, you and I Paul that these idols are fake’
To this seems on the surface to initially agree (v1)
But then he puts a major caveat on it all:
‘knowledge puffs up, but love builds up. ‘
“And if any man think that he knoweth any thing, he knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know.” (8:2)
The approach condemned in verse 2 is not knowledge or wisdom or understanding per se; after all we are exhorted in many places in the Word of God to seek after knowledge and understanding:
Pro_2:2 So that thou incline thine ear unto wisdom, and apply thine heart to understanding;
Pro_2:6 For the LORD giveth wisdom: out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding.
Pro_2:11 Discretion shall preserve thee, understanding shall keep thee:
Pro_3:13 Happy is the man that findeth wisdom, and the man that getteth understanding.
Pro_4:1 Hear, ye children, the instruction of a father, and attend to know understanding.
Pro_4:5 Get wisdom, get understanding: forget it not; neither decline from the words of my mouth.
Pro_4:7 Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding.
Pro_5:1 My son, attend unto my wisdom, and bow thine ear to my understanding:
“And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (2Pe 1:5-8)
The attitude condemned in 8:2 is not knowledge
It is not the ATTAINMENT of knowledge that is the problem
It is the ATTITUDE of knowing that is the problem
That confidence not in the knowledge but in myself because I know.
It is the effect that knowledge can have on the unspiritual mind – puffing us up (8:1-2)
It is an attitude which so often manifests itself as the arrogant; ‘there is only one handle on this problem and I’ve got it’
There are 2 ways you can see this; my way, the right way or your way; the wrong way.
Or as one liberally minded brother put it:
- you serve the Lord in your way
- I’ll serve the Lord in His
It is not the ATTAINMENT of knowledge that is the problem
It is the ATTITUDE of knowing that is the problem
To consider that in what we know there is no gainsaying, no possibility of growth, nor of development, to close our minds to any other aspect of the truth.
This is the distinction between:
- the blind man of John chapter 9
- the Jews of John chapter 9
The blind man can’t answer all of their questions (John 9:25); “I know not”
here was a baffling problem; Jesus Christ was surely a real live human being,
Was Jesus Christ not made of the same stuff as the rest of humanity is, descended from Adam?
If He was a person then surely He must have had His faults like all men?
Did the Jews not appear to name one; an infarction of the Jewish legal code (Jo 9:16)?
The blind man would hardly have known anything of the virgin birth; the Deity of Christ, the impeccability of Christ, nor of the Lordship of the Creator over the Sabbath rest.
There were answers to the accusations of the Jews but they would not be known to the blind man!
It is not that he is ignorant and foolish either.
The contrast in John 9 is not between; we the Pharisees who know and understand and you the blind man who is illiterate, ignorant and lacking in understanding! This is not a contrast between the:
- ignorant and the enlightened
But rather it is a contrast between the:
- humble and the arrogant
The blind man does understand and know what happened to him; “whereas I was blind and now I see” (John 9:25); yet his knowledge is incomplete (9:35-36); but so was the knowledge of the Pharisees – incomplete; in fact how embarrassing; there they were; having spent their life studying for an honours degrees in gnat straining and a PhD in hypocrisy and along comes a blind, illiterate beggar and pops them a question they don’t have a clue about (9:30-34) “and dost thou teach us?” Well actually he does. That didn’t go down well at all, did it?
What really distinguishes these 2 men is not their ATTAINMENT of knowledge but rather their ATTITUDE to knowledge
Their ATTITUDE to what they don’t know:
- The blind man – marked by humility towards the unknown and certainty towards the known (John 9:25,27)
- The Pharisees – marked by puffed up self confidence and arrogance (John 9:30,34)
The blind man is willing to acknowledge that whilst he is certain of what he knows (9:24,30) he will not be dogmatic about what he does not know.
He is happy to trust God where he cannot trace God.
The Pharisees on the other hand are not only adamant about what they do know but are equally emphatic about what they don’t know, because they have such confidence in their own opinions.
The Pharisees had deified their own knowledge as absolute!
They had turned their knowledge into an idol.
They ‘knew that they knew’ and that precluded the possibility that there was something which they did not know.
With this came pride, arrogance and intolerance.
They refuse to be taught (Jo 9:34); “dost thou teach us?”
“he knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know” (8:2)
Not WHAT we know but HOW we know.
Knowledge of God and of the ways and mind of God must be guided by love for God.
“But if any man love God, the same is known of him.” (v3)
The love of God is an acknowledgment of trust in the absolute
The love of God is acquiescing my will / knowledge / understanding to His
I am not absolute; He is!
Here is a man who acquiesces to God
Here is a man who does not claim Lordship over his own life
Here is a man who does not deify self
Here is a man who acquiesces to God
This is the distinction between:
- Job: “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him: but I will maintain mine own ways before him.”(Job 13:15)
- Jobs comforters who it all worked out in their own heads as to who was at fault here; namely Job
Verse 3 is usually taken to mean that:
‘ if a man loves God that man is known by God’
This of course is very true:
- Loving God as the evidence of God knowing us; that the evidence that God knows a man, or that God has saved a man should be and will be seen in the fact that that man loves God. The man who God ‘knows’ with that special meaning of ‘knowledge’; that meaning of intimate or saving relationship:
- “O righteous Father, — the world hath not known thee:but I have known thee, and these have known that thou hast sent me.” (John 17:25)
- “But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage?” (Galatians 4:9)
The man who God knows in a saving sense, will have had a work of transformation in his life, he will have been indwelt by the Spirit of God and the very first fruit, if not the only fruit of the Spirit that will be seen in his life will be that of “love” (Galatians 5:22)
1 John 4:7,19
- Loving God is the consequence of God knowing us. Unless God knows a man, in the sense of saving a man, such a man cannot love God, by nature; ‘there is none that seek after God,’ (Romans 3:11) and it is God who takes the initiative amongst those, ‘who are dead in trespasses and sins’ to quicken us (Ephesians 2:1). “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” (1Jn 4:10)
The problem with the standard view here is that verses 1 and 2 are not about God knowing us but about us knowing God as we ought.
Verses 1 and 2 are not really about how God knows but rather they are about how I know.
“And if any man think that he knoweth any thing, he knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know.” (verse 2)
There is another way to understand this verse however.
The second half of the verse literally reads:
‘he is known of him‘ (JND Translation)
This could mean as CK Barrett notes that it is not that:
‘God has been known by him’
‘God is known by this man. ‘ (CK Barrett p190; Blacks NT Commentary)
In other words:
‘The man who loves God, that man knows God. ‘
Not simply that knowledge makes us love God; that loving God is a consequence of knowing God; which is true enough, but something altogether more profound than that.
Verse 3 starts with’ love’ and not with knowledge
It is not the thought that the knowledge of God makes us love God but rather that the love for God allows us to know Him.
Loving God is a condition for knowing Him, for making any spiritual progress.
This is no new truth!
“And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it.” (Luk 9:23-24)
“He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me. He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.” (Mat 10:37-39)
That is that the knowledge of God flows from the love of God
True knowledge has its origin in love!
Truth is a product of love!
We understand this truth well, maybe so well we are apt to forget it; that was it not for the love of God there would be no knowledge of God!
John3:16 – It is because God So loved this world that the act of revelation and thus redemption came.
Had God not loved we would know nothing of Him.
His love motivated the giving of His Son
By this giving comes salvation (John 3:16) and the revelation of God
‘No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.’ (John 1:18)
Illust: At the head of the Afton, there is a great reservoir, from which we all benefit for cooking and drinking and cleaning, but that reservoir is a long way from your kitchen sink, so that watery resource flows through conduits, pipes right to your home.
The knowledge of God, that great reservoir flows likewise through pipes, pipes of Divine Love.
Gods love is Gods means of bringing His knowledge to us.
Of course by implication, any revelation which claims to be of God or from God would need to be consistent with this truth.
If what is claimed as being the teaching of Gods Word is:
Or if that revelation of truth cuts us in half like an icy blast from the North Pole, we can be pretty sure that it does not arise from the warm currents of the love of God.
It is immediately spurious, as was the claimed revelation here in 1 Corinthians chapter 8.
Of course 1 Co 8:3 doesn’t quite say that, what 1 Corinthians 8:3 says is; ‘if any man loves God, that man knows God,’ in other words, a revelation of the knowledge of God, given in love can only be received in love.
In other words to know God, I must first love God.
God will only reveal Himself to those who love Him
- God refuses to reveal Himself to anyone who does not love Him!
” Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.” (Matthew 7:6)
- Anyone who does not love Him cannot receive the revelation of Him:
“But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God for they are foolishness unto him neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. ” (1 Corinthians 2:14)
“He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him…If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.” (Joh 14:21-23)
For God to reveal Himself to a Soul who does not love Him would merely increase their hatred for Him and increase their condemnation, such a revelation would simply be a revelation of Gods Judgment!
- Consider the revelation of Christ in the Gospels; the more the High Priest knows of Christ The more he hates Christ.
- Consider the reaction of the Sanhedrin to Stephen testimony (Acts 7:54ff; 7:57ff).
- Consider Pharaoh in Romans chp 9
- Consider Nebachudnezzar in Daniel 3:14ff
The solution to the problem of 1 Corinthians chp 8 comes from an unexpected source – CONSCIENCE!
Is conscience not subjective?
Is conscience not inferior to absolute truth?
Is conscience not the consequence of the fall?
Is conscience not the moral immune system – sensitive to the presence of foreign spiritual material?
What do we do when conscience says no but personal knowledge says yes?
When conscience tells us, “God would not approve”, but knowledge says’ “it’s ok!”?
Do we move towards knowledge even when it causes offense to conscience, to a sense that God would not be pleased?
Where do we go?
What is the priority?
- Our liberty?
- Our sense of pleasing God?
That pursuit of knowledge even in the face of the sense that this is not what God would be please with, for me (v7) or for others (v11), deifies and idolises what I know:
‘I know that I know”
A knowledge that quashes conscience and brings violence to our trust in and pleasing of God is a knowledge that hinders and that does not help.
Irrespective as to wither conscience is right or wrong in its deduction, what is absolutely true is the reality that I am faced with a choice; to do that which I ‘feel’ is wrong but ‘think’ is ok.
To go where I sense that God will be displeased but where perhaps I personally wish to go!
When faced with the choice which way do I go?
The direction tells me everything I need to know about the true desires and priority of my heart.