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    November 29, 1883

    “The Sabbath-School. 1 Corinthians 10-15” The Signs of the Times, 9, 45.

    E. J. Waggoner

    Lesson for Pacific Cost.-December 8.
    1 Corinthians 10-15.
    NOTES ON THE LESSON.

    Paul’s first the epistle to the Corinthians was written because grievous errors had arisen in the church, which he wished to correct.The fifth, eleventh, and fourteenth chapters are especially directed against certain evils of which that church was guilty. The existence of these faults was made known to Paul, not by revelation from Heaven, but by the reports of those who came from Corinth, and because one sin, at least, was so well known as to be the subject of common talk. See 1 Corinthians 1:11; 5:1; 11:18.SITI November 29, 1883, page 533.1

    From the consequences attending their perversion of the Lord’s Supper (chap. 11:30) we may well suppose that this error was even more displeasing to God than the sin described in chapter five; the reason why is, that it shows great lack of spiritual discernment, and such a degree of irreverence as would lead to the commission of almost any sin. We learn from verses 20-22, 33, 34 that they were in the habit of making a regular meal of the Lord’s Supper, each one helping himself to all that he could get, making this solemn ordinance a disgraceful revel. There are at the present day well-meaning persons who, although they do not behave so badly as did the Corinthians, make the Lord’s Supper an occasion for partaking of an ordinary meal. Concerning such a custom the apostle exclaims in astonishment: “What? have ye not houses to eat and to drink in? or despise ye the church of God, and shame them that have not? What shall I say to you? shall I praise you in this? I praise you not.” Verse 22. Dr. Barnes has so excellent a comment on this verse,-condemning the gross perversion of the Lord’s Supper, but another evil that has sprung up in most modern churches,-that we quote it:-SITI November 29, 1883, page 533.2

    “Do you not know that the church of God is not designed to be a place of feasting and revelry, nor even a place where to partake of your ordinary meals? Can it be that you will come to the place of public worship, and make them the scenes of feasting and riot? Even on the supposition that there had been no disorder, no reveling, no intemperance, yet on every account it was grossly improper to make the place of public worship a place for a festival entertainment.”SITI November 29, 1883, page 533.3

    What would the good Doctor say if he could know that many, even of the denomination which he so worthily represented, think that a church is not well equipped unless it has a commodious kitchen attached. As for those who need a regular meal in church, as an act of piety, let them learn by these words of Paul, how displeasing their course is to God: “Wherefore, my brethren, when ye come together to eat, tarry one for another. And if any man hunger, let him eat at home; that ye come not together unto condemnation. And the rest will I set in order when I come.” 1 Corinthians 11:33, 34.SITI November 29, 1883, page 533.4

    In the twelfth Chapter of 1 Corinthians Paul corrects some errors in regard to Spiritual gifts. It seems that the church at Corinth had some members who were highly gifted, and others who aspired to prominent positions. There was a strife among the brethren as to whose endowments were the greatest. Many seemed to have thought that one who had no remarkable gift was of no use in the church, and accordingly became puffed up when they viewed their own gifts. In the course of the chapter, the apostle, under the figure of the body, shows that although different members have different offices, none are to be despised on account of their lowly position. He then gives them a strong but delicate reproof for their course. He urges them to earnestly desire the best gifts that God has to bestow, but proceeds to show them something more excellent than high endowments, without which these amount to nothing. That something is charity, or, more properly, love.SITI November 29, 1883, page 533.5

    The first three verses of chapter 13 show the importance of love. From them we learn that it is possible for a person to have faith in the highest degree, to be able to prophesy, to have all wisdom, to be able to speak as an angel, to be charitable (in the common acceptation of the term) to the extent of giving away all his goods, and finally, to give up his life as a martyr, and still amount to nothing in the estimation of God. Such a statement as this must certainly have caused the Corinthians to regard themselves with less complacency. It should have this effect on us.SITI November 29, 1883, page 533.6

    We cannot here enter into any extended examination of this subject. One or two references must suffice. John says, “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments.” 1 John 5:3. Paul says that “love is the fulfilling of the law;” and Christ himself said that all the law and the prophets were summed up into two great principles, love to God, and love to man. Matthew 22:36-40. We conclude, then, that this thing which is greater than all gifts of prophecy or of wisdom, and without which they are nothing is simply the keeping of the commandments of God, not as a matter of outward form, but from the heart. Peter says that charity [love] covers a multitude of sin. 1 Peter 4:8. And James says that the same result is accomplished by converting a sinner from the error of his ways. James 5:20. But a sinner is converted only by the application of the law of God. Psalm 19:7; Romans 7:7-10; James 2:25. So we see again that the keeping of the commandments is that charity of which Paul writes.SITI November 29, 1883, page 533.7

    In the fifthteen chapter of 1 Corinthians we have direct and most unmistakable proof of the falsity of the doctrine that men are naturally immortal, or that they receive their reward at death. The apostle first proves (verses 3-8) beyond all cavil that Christ was really raised from the dead; for if the testimony of above five hundred persons who saw him alive after he had been put to death, does not establish the fact beyond all contradiction, then nothing can be proved. But since it is a fact that Christ is raised from the dead, how can any one say that there is no resurrection from the dead? See verse 12. The same power that raised up Christ, has promised to raise all mankind; and the fact that Christ was raised is proof of his power to fulfill this promise; hence Christ’s resurrection is a pledge of the general resurrection. Whoever says that there is no resurrection, denies that Christ is risen, and virtually declares that the twelve apostles and the “five hundred brethren,” were false witnesses. Verses 13-16.SITI November 29, 1883, page 533.8

    In this matter Paul establishes the fact that there will be a resurrection. There can be no misunderstanding of this argument; it is as simple as it is conclusive. Then he goes over the ground again, and shows what would be the consequences if there were no resurrection. “For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised; and if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished.” Verses 16-18. Mark that Paul does not say that if the dead rise not something terrible will happen to those who have fallen asleep in Christ; he does not say that in such a case they will perish; but he says that if the dead rise not, those who have fallen asleep in Christ “are perished.” Then it necessarily follows that they are in the same condition now (with a resurrection in prospect) that they would be in to all eternity, if there were no resurrection. Why is it that they are not really perished? Because they have the promise of a resurrection from the dead,-a promise made by One who never fails. The condition of the dead now is in nowise different from what it would be if Christ had not died and rose again, nor from the condition that those will be in who will suffer the second death, except that in that case there is a limit and in these there is none. There can be no other fair construction put upon Paul’s words here; whosoever, therefore, affirms that the righteous that are now enjoying the bliss of Heaven, must leave Paul out of the account.SITI November 29, 1883, page 533.9

    “But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the first-fruits of them that slept.” Verse 20. Some have imagined a discrepancy between this statement and the fact that some were raised from the dead even before Christ’s death; and others have tried to make a difference between the resurrection of those persons,-Lazarus, the widow’’ son, etc.,-and that of those who were raised at or after Christ’s resurrection. But this is not necessary in order to harmonize the Scripture narrative for there is no discrepancy. Lazarus had as literal a resurrection as did Dorcas, or Christ himself. His resurrection, however, was accomplished only by virtue of Christ’s promised death and resurrection, which, since God had promised it, was the same as already accomplished. Christ was the first-fruits; not the first in point of time, but the chief. And since his resurrection was that by which the resurrection of all was made possible (see verse 21), it might be said to be the first. In one sense it was indeed the first, for as soon as it was promised it was virtually done; had this not been the case, no miracles of raising the dead could have been done before the resurrection of Christ.SITI November 29, 1883, page 533.10

    “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” Verse 22. There is no condition to this statement; it includes both good and bad. Those who claim that only the righteous are raised, must also claim that none but the righteous die in Adam; for the “all” in the latter part of the verse must mean the same as the first “all.” Adam sinned, and thus fell under the power of death; and since he could not transmit to his posterity that which he did not possess himself, all men are mortal. We receive mortality part of our inheritance from Adam. But to all the promise of a resurrection is given. This, however, can give no satisfaction to the universalist, for Paul immediately adds: “But every man in his own order: Christ the first-fruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming.” This implies that there will be some who are not Christ’s at his coming, and this fact is plainly stated in Matthew 13:38-42; 25:31-41, etc. The first are raised to eternal life; the second, to damnation, eternal death. John 5:28, 29.SITI November 29, 1883, page 533.11

    As shown above from verses 13-18, Paul declares that the dead have no conscious existence-neither good nor bad have inherent immortality. In verses 51-55 he tells us how and when immortality will be given to the righteous. At the last trump the living shall be changed “in a moment, in the twinkling of the night,” and the dead shall be raised incorruptible. “For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.” This must be done because corruption cannot inherit in corruption. Verse 50. It follows from this that the good do not at death receive their incorruptible reward, for incorruption is not put on till Christ comes. When that event shall take place, and the mortal shall have put on immortality, “Then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.” Then, and not till then, will the redeemed shout, “O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?”SITI November 29, 1883, page 533.12

    The apostle fitly closes this chapter with the following words: “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.” The word “therefore” shows that this is a conclusion from what has preceded. Why should they be always abounding, and how do they know that their labor is not in vain? Because they now know that there will be a resurrection, and that death is not the end of all things; they can look beyond for a reward. The conclusion is unavoidable, however, both from this and previous verses, that if there were no resurrection from the dead, all their labor would be in vain. The common view that man is naturally immortal, robs Christ of his highest prerogative, that of life-giver, and opens the way for men to ignore him altogether; but the view which we advance is in harmony with the Bible statement that “the gift of God is eternal life, through Jesus Christ, our Lord,” and is consistent with the fact that the redeemed will be able to say, “Thanks be to God, who giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”SITI November 29, 1883, page 533.13

    E. J. W.SITI November 29, 1883, page 533.14

    “Our Lord’s Last Passover. (Concluded.)” The Signs of the Times, 9, 45.

    E. J. Waggoner

    (Concluded.)

    To the proposition that none but those who show their faith in Christ by obedience to God’s law can rightfully partake of the Lord’s Supper, it may be objected that, although Christ, who was its founder, had a right to bar whomsoever he saw fit, his followers are not competent judges as to who is worthy and who is not; that they have no right to deprive anyone of the privilege. It is claimed that such an act savors of bigotry, and is a mark of illiberality.SITI November 29, 1883, page 535.1

    To this we would reply. (1) That it is the Lord himself who sets the standard; his followers dare not go beyond him. (2) That the question of liberality or illiberality is not concerned in the case. One may be liberal with that which is his own, and may dispose of it as he pleases; but to take the same freedom with that which is anothers would be sin. But the supper in question is “the Lord’s Supper;” consequently no one but he can dispense its privileges. The word “illiberal,” when used with reference to those who do not believe in communing with law-breakers, is sadly misapplied. (3) Those who do so cannot be said to deprive anybody of the privilege of communion. They simply refuse to commune with them for the obvious reason that communion with them is impossible. There is not perfect union and harmony. There cannot be while one keeps the law and the other pursues in breaking it. “For what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion has light with darkness?” (4) No one decides as to another’s fitness or unfitness; the individual does that for himself. If he professes to have faith in Christ and to love God’s law, no one can have any right or wish to exclude him. He may be at heart a law-breaker, although correct in his profession; but of this no one can judge. God alone can read the heart. If the individual presumes to act the part of a hypocrite, the responsibility is his own. And (5) As to being deprived of the privilege of the Lord’s Supper, we would reply, that it is very far from being a privilege to one who is unworthy. Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 11:15 that he who does not discern the Lord’s body is an unworthy partaker. The phrase, “not discerning the Lord’s body,” means that the individual does not realize the nature and object of the ordinance. This would be the case if the person did not realize that Christ’s blood was shed “for the remission of sins that are passed,” and that when we accept it in our case we virtually pledge ourselves to abstain from sin in the future; “to walk even has he walked.” In short, if a person presumes upon the mercy of God, and thinks that the sacrifice of Christ renders any effort on his part unnecessary, he would certainly be unworthy. And Paul says that he who eats and drinks unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself.SITI November 29, 1883, page 535.2

    The ordinances of the Gospel our duties to be performed, and not merely privileges to be enjoyed. But they are not duties that are enjoined upon all, irrespective of their condition. There are two kinds of duty-primary and secondary; and it is the non-performance of the first that makes necessary the performance of the second. It is every person’s duty to keep the law of God. There is no individual who is free from this obligation. Had man never sinned, keeping the law of God would have been his whole duty. But all men have sinned, and now God commands all men everywhere to repent. Christ died that we might find forgiveness of our sins by repentance and faith in him, and we are called upon to show our faith by performing certain duties. But we are not called upon to do these duties without first having repented. Christ’s teaching was, “Repent ye, and believe the gospel.” Paul preached, “Repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.” This is the true order. And the repentance must be complete. We must keep the whole law. Keeping eight-tenths or nine-tenths of the law is not enough.SITI November 29, 1883, page 535.3

    As we have before remarked, then, there is no exclusive ess about the matter. Certain ones who do not render obedience to all the law of God, will say, Come, let us partake of communion together. We would be glad to do so, but how can there be communion when there is disagreement? When they say, Let us commune together, it is equivalent to saying, Let us show our union or agreement; let there be perfect harmony between us, and yet they refuse to agree. It is sometimes said: We will waive this point; we will not let our opinions interfere; we will agree to disagree. But an agreement to disagree is disagreement still, and brings no union. Beside it is not our opinion that separates us, but the commandment of God.SITI November 29, 1883, page 535.4

    But what if the person asking to commune does not understand all the law, but is walking up to all the light that he has? Then give him the further instruction that he needs. If he has been conscientiously walking in all the light that he had, he will thank God for further light, and will at once accept it. But what if he cannot see as you do, and is still honestly trying to do right? Then pray that his eyes be opened. If he is really honest, God will not permit him to wander in darkness. But whether honest or dishonest, whether walking in the light or self-deceived, there can be no true communion where there is material disagreement. The Saviour prayed thus for his disciples: “Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are.” John 17:11. And in this prayer He included his whole church, for He said: “Neither pray I for these alone but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; that they all may be one; as now, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us.” Verses 20, 21. Christ, then, did not contemplate many churches, nor one church with the individual branches “each serving God in his own way,” but an individual church, between the members of which the union should be as close as it was between him and the Father.SITI November 29, 1883, page 535.5

    And this union and harmony was not intended to be a union which should be brought about by an agreement to ignore certain doctrines of the word of God, for that would be union only in name. The prayer of the Lord Jesus was: “Sanctify them through the thy truth; thy word is truth.” Christian union, therefore, can only exist where all believe and speak the same thing. The apostles continually urged this state of things upon those to whom they wrote. Romans 12:16; 15:5; 1 Corinthians 1:10; 2 Corinthians 13:11; Philippians 2:2; 3:16; 1 Peter 3:8; etc. To say that it is impossible for all to see alike, is to impeach the wisdom of Christ and his inspired apostles. The exhortation of Paul in 1 Corinthians 1:10 is peculiarly noteworthy: “Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no division among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same judgment.” Nothing could indicate more perfect unity than this. All must have one mind and one judgment. And this state of things existed in the early church, as we learn from Acts 4:32. “And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and one soul.” What has been done can be done; and this condition must necessarily exist among the true followers of Christ.SITI November 29, 1883, page 535.6

    There is another lesson that we may learn from the example of Christ on this occasion; one that all the followers of Christ should ever keep in mind, and which if acted upon, would take the edge off from any such epithet as “exclusive” or “bigoted.” It is this: Christ could not suffer Judas to commune with his loving followers, and yet he washes his feet. What an amazing instance of humility! The King of glory condescends to wash the feet of his betrayer, a vile wretch with whom he could have nothing in common. No word of harshness or reproach for his perfidy, but a manifestation of tenderness, as though he were his best friend. And after giving Judas this proof of his gentleness and humility, he gives him to understand all his villainy is known, and delicately requests him to do his work at once, that his presence may not mar the scene of harmony and love that should follow. E. J. W.SITI November 29, 1883, page 535.7

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