#543 (23/2/22) THE ONE GOD
'So then, about eating food sacrificed to idols: We know that “An idol is nothing at all in the world” and that “There is no God but one.” For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as indeed there are many “gods” and many “lords”), yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live.’ (1 Corinthians 8:4-6)
We live in a culture where we feel the pressure to embrace all forms of spirituality as equally valid. Many, even so-called Christians, speak of being on a faith journey, by which, they can mean - even subconsciously - that they want to avoid the pain of being clear on what the Bible teaches! The Corinthian church were being tempted by social pressures to be involved in the worship of false gods and other sinful practices. Likewise, we are under similar pressure and we must ask for the Holy Spirit’s strength so as to be a witness to Christ.
As Christians, we say, 'for us there is but one God'! We are to worship to the one true God and do nothing that inspires others to think that it’s okay to worship other ‘lords’ and ‘gods’ alongside Him. The entire story of the Old Testament teaches this so richly. The people, before entering The Promised Land failed to listen to this warning,
‘Do not worship any other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.’ (Exodus 34:14)
Let's briefly look at the phrases about God from today's verses:
1. Christians believe and encourage others to believe, ‘For us there is but one God’ There are not many true God’s. For Christians, there is only one God that we worship.
2. For us, God is ‘The Father’. This is our relationship to God. We are loved and adopted into His family. We love our weaker family members because God loves them.
3. Our Father, unlike all idols in the creator ‘from whom all things came’. The Father is creator of all things.
4. He is the one ‘For whom we live’ . Our existence is for His purposes.
5. Christians also believe the deity of Jesus. We understand 'And there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ through whom all things came…’ The Father created all things through the Son. This is no small, optional thing! If Jesus isn't God (along with the Father and the Spirit) it would be idolatry to worship Him!
6. We have been transformed through Jesus ‘Through whom we live.’ Jesus is our redeemer. We live through Him. Jesus’ death for us gives us new life. We love our weaker family members because Jesus died for them.
Are we worshippers of the one true God? Do we live and speak so as to help others to become worshippers? Do we do anything that detracts from God’s glory? Are we aware and careful not to allow other things - cars, clothes, good looks, career, sexual immorality… - to become our idols? If we don’t recognise and fight against this, it will encroach on our lives.
COMMUNITY GROUP NOTES AND STUDY
It might be good to begin with notices. Please share from this week’s Church News.
Do you have any encouragements to share from how God has been speaking to you from His word recently?
3. Recap of Sunday's message - please share in your group
On Sunday, we continued with our series 'Becoming Love' from the book of 1 Corinthians.
i) CHRISTIANS ARE BUILDERS (8:1-3)
Now about food sacrificed to idols: We know that “We all possess knowledge.” But knowledge puffs up while love builds up. Those who think they know something do not yet know as they ought to know. But whoever loves God is known by God. (8:1-3)
Many at Corinth felt that they were free to eat meat sacrificed to idols and attend gatherings in their temples. These Christians were tempting those who have come out of an idol-worshipping background to go back to their old attitudes. Paul teaches them that love builds up. True Christians - those 'known by God' - build others up. All Christians are builders!
ii) LOVE BUILDS THOSE WHO ARE VULNERABLE
‘So then, about eating food sacrificed to idols: We know that “An idol is nothing at all in the world” and that “There is no God but one.” For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as indeed there are many “gods” and many “lords”), yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live. But not everyone possesses this knowledge. Some people are still so accustomed to idols that when they eat sacrificial food they think of it as having been sacrificed to a god, and since their conscience is weak, it is defiled. But food does not bring us near to God; we are no worse if we do not eat, and no better if we do.’ (1 Corinthians 8:5-8)
As Christians, the Corinthian church worshipped the Father and the Son (and the Spirit) who is the true God. No idol compares to Him. However, if they ate idol meat and are seen to be worshipping in their temples, weaker Christians would assume that it was okay to worship God and idols. How we use our liberty can be dangerous to others, particularly the vulnerable.
iii) LOVE IS CAREFUL NOT TO TEAR DOWN
‘Be careful, however, that the exercise of your rights does not become a stumbling block to the weak. For if someone with a weak conscience sees you, with all your knowledge, eating in an idol’s temple, won’t that person be emboldened to eat what is sacrificed to idols? So this weak brother or sister, for whom Christ died, is destroyed by your knowledge. When you sin against them in this way and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ.' (1 Corinthians 8:9-12)
These so called maturer and more knowledgable Christians were not being careful and were being a stumbling block to weaker Christians. They were destroying their faith by teaching, through their actions, that idolotry and Christianity were compatible.
iv) THEREFORE - HOW CAN I LOVE AND BUILD OTHERS UP?
‘Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother or sister to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause them to fall.’ (1 Corinthians 8:9-13)