Lord's Day, October 5, 2003

I Corinthians 9:19-11:16

Sermon Notes




1.    Adaptable to whom, for what ? I Cor. 9:19-27


“Although I am free from all men, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win the more.”

What a principle is that! With the Jews, his Jewishness is a bond, with those who are law-sensitive, he shares his zeal, to those without law, his liberty comes to the fore – but not from God! Where there is weakness, his own appears, so that he might be “all things to all men”, in the service of Christ, making contact where he may, sharing where it is apt, bringing all to the one point from which all derive, to which all must return, Christ.


“Run,” he says, “in such a way that you obtain!” This means application, discipline as in a race, yes of the body, of all the talents; for the teacher must be exemplary, and the proclaimer an illustration!

2.    Authentic the Seed of Faith that Grows the Flower of Fearlessness and the Fruit of Content I Cor. 10:1-13

Not form but faith, not trust in something, but in Christ, not as a suggestion box, but as Lord, not mere participants in ceremony, but in the life of the Lord: this is the need. Remember, the apostle declaims, Israel’s unbelief in crucial episodes, yes and its sexual liberties, and such things are meant to teach us who have come to the threshold of eternity, with  the Messiah now come, and His judgment impending.

Therefore do not grumble, complain or wallow in self-satisfaction. Believe, act and rejoice in the Lord, not tempting Him to see how far you can go! Is that the issue of faith ? NEVER are you tempted too much: when it SEEMS so, seek a way of escape (I Cor. 
10:13). God can act, so that only unbelief rushes to ruin in intemperate impatience.

3. Purity Perceives the Principle, Pursues the Pith  
 I Cor.


God being the source, saviour and scent of life, treat idols, substitutes, syntheses, combinations like death adders! Therefore, while liberty is yours, so make purity your own. Remember the sacrifices of Israel ? they allowed you to participate in the very altar, for some would eat of the sacrifice! Therefore in your own fellowship, DO NOT have any pollution. God is Lord and needs no allies from outside, masquerading as He! There are devils: avoid them! Not gods, they are yet malign and evil: keep to the pure worship of God, unmixed.


If now, as far as mere meat itself is concerned, where it may have been offered to idols, there are no questions asked, then do not ask them. The sacrifice to an idol is nothing so long as YOU do not participate in that! If however the issue is raised, then DO NOT eat it, lest some brother who does not understand, should be offended.


Is it an issue of conscience, then, NOT to eat it when the point is raised ? Certainly, it is; not of your conscience however, as if it would compromise you, but of the conscience of the one who does not yet understand, an immature fellow Christian (I Corinthians 10:29).


What then is the principle in all this ? Do not seek your own will, or profit, but that of others, so that they may be saved. This is the example to follow, just as Paul Himself followed Christ (cf. Romans 15).



4.    Head Coverings and Heart Openings I Cor. 11:1-16


Here we enter into hirsuit symbolism. Man is the head of the house, God the head of the man, in terms of presidency, so that man should NOT cover his head, but woman should, in praying or ‘prophesying’ (11:5 – biblical exposition now, the canon being complete, Rev. 22:18-19, both in things given, and words unsubtractible). It is at once apparent from this that the reactionary current custom of some to prohibit public prayer in women is foolish. Why talk of the symbolism WHILE you pray, where observation is the keynote in question, if there is nothing to be observed, because women never so pray!


Woman, says the apostle, was created for the man, however, and so in approaching God in public, she should keep her head covered, the man not; indeed, he pursues the point, the natural style is that woman’s hair is a glory, but not so with man. There is a natural covering, just as a symbolic one. But even given the mode, what of the prohibition in I Timothy 2, concerning women speaking in church ? This was in the domain of questions, and in the field of authority of man. To pray could be used to assert authority, but normally it is not, and so is not then relevant.


In public meetings, clearly outside church, women could pray or open up the word of God. However, in the formal meeting for worship, lest there be an avenue for disorder, it would seem best simply to follow the direct teaching of I Timothy 2, which deals with that formal occasion. This may not exclude invitation to pray (cf. I Cor. 11:5), but assuredly excludes preaching or teaching there, by women. Certainly a woman cannot be an elder for SPECIFICALLY elders have supervisory authority (Acts 20:28), and that is the area from which a woman is excluded in I Timothy 2 for the historical grounds noted. Therefore she does not present the church message either, though she could be invited in a prayer meeting to present the word, where no contest is in view, and of course pray. There is no superiority in man, and to disregard women would be outrageous; but there are specialised works accorded to each (Galatians 3:28).


One local church in our own area has women elders who nevertheless do not go to the Elders’ meeting; but this is trifling with the word of God, since the office is created by God (Titus 1) and is not available for formalities. What it is, means authority; what is excluded for women in the Church, is authority. It is as simple as that.


Nevertheless, it is important to realise that the power women can wield over the young, other women and in counsel with men, is tremendous. Often the thoughts are clarified outside the meeting, and the understanding comes before it! In this way, order and method are preserved, liberty becomes not licence but specialisation, and all should serve in the respective roles with the joy of assignment, each for all, all for Christ.