Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 1 * PART 1 * BOOK 28
Lord’s Table Order
Now as we begin a new book we’ll still be in I Corinthians Chapter 10.
Every so often I tell you that we are nondenominational and we never try to attack anyone in our teachings, but rather just teach as the Holy Spirit leads us. When we first started the television ministry I guess my biggest fear was all the hate mail we would get, but in the six years we have been on the air we have only received two letters like that, and they weren’t all that bad. So I have to just count it a real blessing that we’re not making people downright angry. If you disagree with me, that’s your privilege, the Word of God is such that I think we can have some differences of opinion, and still not be heretics or anything like that. I have to totally depend on how the Holy Spirit opens it to my understanding, and not how some would have me to teach it.
Now in the Book of I Corinthians, as we have been stressing ever since we started teaching this little letter, evidently from Chapter 7 verse 1 some questions had arisen, and I think this is the clue for Paul writing this letter of I Corinthians. Now granted it’s all inspired by the Holy Spirit, and everything that has happened has been directed by God’s Sovereign Grace, but nevertheless the human element always enters in as well. Now this is the beauty of Scripture as it’s all inspired of God. Every word has been directed by the Holy Spirit, and yet every author maintains his personality. In other words, Isaiah writes from a totally different personality than Ezekiel. The Four Gospels are from a totally different perspective than Paul’s writings, and so on and so forth, and yet they are all in a composite way authored by the Holy Spirit. And so here in Chapter 7, and verse 1, the Holy Spirit inspires Paul to write this, but yet it gives us the human element as to why he wrote I Corinthians and it was in response to:
I Corinthians 7:1a
“Now concerning the things whereof ye wrote unto me:…”
So what did they do? They had a whole ton of questions, and I can just see them as they just put them down on the page, and were asking Paul, “What about this problem, and what about that problem,” and so forth. So this whole letter of I Corinthians deals with problems that Paul does not commend them for, and he’s too kind to just out and out condemn them, but neither does he brag on them, but rather Paul is just kind of backing into this situation so that he doesn’t flare up their anger, and put them into a place where he can’t deal with them. And yet he is not going to agree with all of their problems, and we know the reason is that they are still so carnal. Remember they are the most carnal of any group that Paul deals with. Even here in Chapter 10 in their practicing of what we call the Lord’s table, or the communion service, or whatever your particular denomination may call it, the Corinthians had made it a problem. They were having all kinds of things going on that should have never taken place in the Church, and Paul has to address it.
Now we just came out of the situation of eating meats that had been offered to idols. And there again that tells us that the Corinthians were having to deal with things that you and I know nothing of. You know we’re not living in a culture where people have offered meat to idols in some pagan temple, and then have it end up in our butcher markets. And then when we buy meat have to wonder, “Well, has this come from that pagan temple?” We’re not up against that, but the Corinthians were, and even before that they were going to law with one another, they were suing each other in the pagan courts. Paul says, “That’s not the way you do things when you are a believer.” And so the whole Book of I Corinthians is dealing basically with problems that were besetting the Corinthian Church. Now we touched on verse 16 in our last lesson, but let’s look at it again.
I Corinthians 10:16,17
“The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion (or fellowship) of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion (or fellowship) of the body of Christ? For we being many are one bread, and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread.”
When we get into Chapter 12 we will see Paul make the analogy of the Body of Christ being put together like the human body with all our various functions of fingers and toes, and the rest of the body. But yet we’re under one central nervous system aren’t we? Everything is centered in the head in our brain. So also is the body of Christ, because He is the Head in heaven, and every born again believer is a member now of that Body, and we’re all members of each other.
The bread speaks of much the same kind of thing, because you all know where bread come from don’t you? From wheat. What makes a bin full of wheat? Kernels. I remember when I was farming up in Iowa, I would, every now and then, just look at a 10,000 bushel bin I had, and would just stand there amazed that this whole 10,000 bushel bin is comprised of individual kernels. All right, that’s the analogy. Every time you eat a loaf of bread, what has comprised that loaf of bread? Umpteen kernels of wheat that were ground into flour, and then made into bread. The analogy still holds. What are we as members of the Body of Christ? We’re just like that loaf of bread that has become a composite of those individual kernels of grain. Now with that in mind let’s look at verse 16 again:
I Corinthians 10:16,17a
“The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion (or fellowship) of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break is it not (in picture form) the communion (or fellowship)of the body of Christ? (Which is that group of believers) For we being many are one bread,…”
Even that loaf of bread coming from several thousands of kernels of wheat, yet in the final make-up it’s one loaf. In fact let’s even stretch our imagination a little further. Within that one loaf of bread there may have been a composite of wheat shipments from all over the United States that have ended up maybe in a Kansas City mill where it was in turn ground into flour. So we have that loaf of bread here in Oklahoma and where may some of that wheat have come from? Ohio, North Dakota, Colorado, Kansas and so forth. But it all ended up as part of that one loaf of bread. And so is the Body of Christ: we’ve got believers in China, we’ve got believers in Europe, in America, and South America, regardless of their background we are all members of that one Body by virtue of the blood of Christ. We’re blood bought.
I Corinthians 10:17b,18
“…for we are all partakers of that one bread. Behold Israel after the flesh: (the nation) are not they which eat of the sacrifices partakers of the altar?”
Now you want to remember that when the pagans set up their animal sacrifices, it was the satanic counterfeit of what God had established to be the right way with the nation of Israel. Satan established the counterfeit, and is the master counterfeiter. So when the pagans offered their animal sacrifices, and then had the meat from the temple taken to the market place or maybe given to the individual who brought the sacrifice, where did they really copy this practice from? Well from Israel, because Israel did the same thing. If Israel took a sacrificial animal up to the priest, who could eat of that meat first? The Priest did. But on the other hand if there was more than the priest could handle, evidently it was within his power to designate who would get it, maybe the individual who brought the sacrifice in the first place. So even the Jew who brought the sacrifice could end up partaking of that sacrifice, and that is what Paul is saying in verse 18. Now verse 19 and here Paul is going to bring in the idolatry side of it.
I Corinthians 10:19
“What say I then? that the idol is any thing, or that which is offered in sacrifice to idols is any thing?”
Now you know it’s hard for us to comprehend Paul’s thinking. On the one hand he makes it sound like there’s absolutely nothing wrong with eating meat offered to idols. As far as Paul was concerned that idol was nothing more than dead stone or wood, it could never have an effect on that meat so far as he was concerned, he could eat it without compunction. But on the other hand he would warn people that there was something associated with those demonic gods, and these gods had power, and so there were instances where Paul says, “Don’t eat of it.” And we’re going to see that in the next few verses. But right here in this verse Paul is saying, “That idol can’t affect that meat, because it’s dead.” But on the other hand the idol may be dead, but what about the power behind it? Hey, it’s not dead, and that’s Satan. See? Satan works through idolatry. Now verse 20.
I Corinthians 10:20
“But I say, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils,…”
Demons. Why did they sacrifice to demons instead of the true God? They didn’t know the true God. They didn’t know Who God was. Remember back in the Book of Acts? Let’s go for a moment and look at it. I don’t intend to do these things when I’m preparing for this, but in Acts Chapter 17 we find the Apostle Paul coming to Athens. And you want to remember Athens was a thriving city of intellectual imports. They had all the philosophers, and good universities today still study the Greek writers: Aristotle, and Homer, and Plato and all the rest of these fellows. So Paul comes into Athens and now verse 16:
“Now while Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was stirred in him, when he saw the city wholly given to idolatry.”
In spite of all their intellectualism, and intelligence, and philosophy, did they know anything of the one true God? Nothing. They were given over totally to the worship of idols, and the mythological gods. And then just come on down to verse 21.
“(For all the Athenians and strangers which were there spent their time in nothing else, but either to tell, or to hear some new thing.)”
But listen, did they every hear anything of the One True God in the new things that they heard? No. It was just a rehash of another oriental god of some kind, or another mythological goddess sitting up on some mountain top supposedly in their minds at least. Now look at verse 23: I’m just doing this so you can get the picture of these people among whom Paul is ministering.
“For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, (their idolatrous worship) I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you.”
Just like a fellow told me once when I was going through some real financial hardships, and he knew I was. Boy, he came flying into my farmyard one day, and the dust was flying as he came to a stop, and said, “Les, I was just going down the highway and I was thinking of you. Have you ever thought of praying to St. Jude?” “No.” I said, “Why should I?” He said, “Well I’m a firm believer that you plug every hole.” And that’s the way these Athenians were. I mean they had all these gods and goddess, and all their worship, and yet just in case they had missed one they set up a special one and dedicated it to “the Unknown God.” They knew absolutely nothing of the God of Creation. They knew nothing of the God of Abraham, although the Jews had been in their midst for hundreds of years. Now let’s come back to I Corinthians again.
So these were idol worshiping heathens as we would call them. I don’t like to use the word `heathen,’ because most of us in America think of heathen as those that our missionaries ministered unto a hundred years ago. They would go into the deep, dark jungles in foreign countries, right down into deep dark paganism, and we still get that connotation when we use the word `heathen.’ But in Scripture the word `heathen’ just means any non-Jew. Anyone not a Jew was considered a heathen or Gentile. So keep your definitions straight. Now verse 20:
I Corinthians 10:20
“But I say, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils (demons), and not to God: and I would not that ye should have fellowship with devils.” (demons)
Oh horrors, that’s why when we get to II Corinthians Chapter 6, Paul says, “You can’t have fellowship with God and demons.” There has to be that separation, and here Paul is saying that so clearly. Also remember that Paul is building his case for the communion table. Verse 21.
I Corinthians 10:21
“Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils: (demons) ye cannot be partakers of the Lord’s table, and of the table of devils. (demons)“ You can’t. I think Jesus made the statement Himself:
“…You cannot serve God and mammon.” You can’t have one foot in the world, and the other in the Church, it just doesn’t work like that. Oh, you can get by for a while but you’re miserable. Now verse 22.
I Corinthians 10:22
“Do we provoke the Lord to jealousy? are we stronger than he?”
Remember the argument that Paul is building is that they have to be careful how they practice the Lord’s table. In verse 23 we find Paul shifting gears again, and here in this verse he seemingly changes the subject and drops into something totally different, but it’s still coming home to the effect of the Lord’s table, compared with fellowship with demons, and fellowship with the Lord and His work of the Cross.
I Corinthians 10:23
“All things are lawful for me, (that’s frightening isn’t it? How in the world did the Holy Spirit see fit to inspire the man to say something like that?) but all things are not expedient: (now what does that mean? Well, there was no set law resting on Paul’s shoulders that says, `Thou shalt not.’ The Cross finished all of that. We’re no longer under law, but even though he is set free from law, yet is he free to do the things contrary to the law? No. And when we say that we’re not under law, but rather Grace, I never imply that we are now free to do as we please. Remember Grace is not a license.) all things are lawful for me, (so far as legalism is concern) but all things edify not.”
And again he is going to be building his case here that every believer has to be careful what they do, and what they practice because there are people constantly watching us. Paul does use the expression that everyone is a living epistle.
II Corinthians 3:2
“Ye are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read of all men:”
What does that mean? There are a lot people who will never pick up this Book and read it, but they can look at you, and they can read. You are a living epistle, and this is what Paul is trying to bring these Corinthians to understand, that even though they were living in the midst of abject immorality, and idolatry, and mythology, yet wherever those Corinthians went within that Greek culture they were to be a living epistle. They were to be something that the world around them could read, and understand. Now verse 24, and remember he’s still building to the practice of the Lord’s table.
I Corinthians 10:24
“Let no man seek his own, but every man another’s wealth.” Now in that verse the last word “wealth” is italicized which means it’s been added. That’s unfortunate, I think it should have been left blank. This is a hard verse to explain, but you know that Paul is not saying that you are to try to get what the next man has, because that flies in the face of everything that he teaches. So what I think he is really saying here is that we are not to just constantly look for what’s in it for number one. That’s been the cliche for the last generation or so. “What’s in it for me,” is what it’s saying. Don’t be concerned about what you do for yourself, but be concerned what’s it going to do for my neighbors? How is it going enhance his situation, and that’s exactly what he’s driving at. Now verse 25:
I Corinthians 10:25,26
“Whatsoever is sold in the shambles, (here I think Paul is talking about the open market that we referred to earlier) that eat, asking no question for conscience sake: For the earth is the Lord’s, and the fulness thereof.”
Now I think we can get a little glimpse of verse 26 when Peter saw the sheet come down in the Book of Acts. And of course the Lord was teaching Peter something totally different, but it was the same analogy. Here came this sheet filled with all manner of four-footed animals and creeping things and what did the Lord tell Peter? “Kill and eat.” Boy that was the shock of all shocks to a good kosher Jew. What did Peter say? “Not so Lord, I have never eaten anything common or unclean.” But you see here comes Paul in I Corinthians with that freedom that Grace brings even to the Jew, and that is, you don’t worry about whether it’s kosher or not, the Lord has created it, thank Him for it, and eat it. And that is where we are today. Now verse 27.
I Corinthians 10:27
“If any of them that believe not bid you to a feast, and ye be disposed to go; (in other words you are going to respond to the invitation) whatsoever is set before you, eat, asking no question for conscience sake.”
Now if that same individual when he invites you to that feast says, “The meat I’m serving tonight came from the pagan temple,” then that makes it a little bit different. See in verse 28:
I Corinthians 10:28
“But if any man say unto you, This is offered in sacrifice unto idols, eat not for his sake that shewed it, (Why? Now you are going to show him that you are not going to have anything to do with that which was tainted by being offered to some demonic god.) and for conscience sake: for the earth is the Lord’s and the fulness thereof:”
But other than that, Paul says, if you don’t know the difference go ahead and eat, because there’s nothing wrong with that meat. Offering it to that idol didn’t affect the meat one iota. It’s nothing but a dead, dumb idol. So it always depends on the circumstances.