Sunday, March 07, 2010

A Way Out (Of Reading 1 Corinthians)

Today at ECOOS, in place of a sermon, there was a presentation by the youth about an upcoming mission trip to that den of iniquity, Washington D.C. When asked "Why Washington D.C.?," I kept waiting for someone to say "To clean up Congress!" Now that would be a real mission trip. This presentation by the youth was especially convenient because it gave everyone a way out of studying the Epistle for today, 1 Corinthians 10:1-13. This passage might be a test for some liberal minds. Here is the reading, and after you finish, there will be a short quiz.

Warnings from Israel’s History
I do not want you to be unaware, brothers, that our ancestors were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, and all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual rock that followed them, and the rock was Christ. Nevertheless, God was not pleased with most of them, and they were struck down in the wilderness.
Now these things occurred as examples for us, so that we might not desire evil as they did. Do not become idolaters as some of them did; as it is written, ‘The people sat down to eat and drink, and they rose up to play.’ We must not indulge in sexual immorality as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in a single day. We must not put the LORD to the test, as some of them did, and were destroyed by serpents. And do not complain as some of them did, and were destroyed by the destroyer. These things happened to them to serve as an example, and they were written down to instruct us, on whom the ends of the ages have come. So if you think you are standing, watch out that you do not fall. No testing has overtaken you that is not common to everyone. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tested beyond your strength, but with the testing he will also provide the way out so that you may be able to endure it.

Test Questions:

1. Why are all those Bible stories important?

a. Because they are entertaining.
b. Because they help sell Bibles.
c. They are warnings from the past.
d. Some of them make great movies.

2. What does Paul mean when he says our ancestors were all under the cloud?

a. Those ancient people were not as wise as we are.
b. They were in a bad mood, and were mean and nasty people.
c. Exodus 13:21-22
d. My ancestors smoked grass?

3. What does he mean, God was not pleased with most of them?

a. Paul got it wrong, for we know that God always is pleased with us.
b. Maybe a few of them were naughty, but not most.
c. Numbers 11:1-3, Numbers 16:20-35
d. Paul can't speak for God.

4. What is wrong with sitting down to eat and drink and then getting up to play?

a. Nothing.
b. He meant you should not go swimming after eating and drinking.
c. He was quoting Exodus 32:6, and how they engaged in revelry after making a golden calf.
d. You should always ask permission before getting up from the table.

5. What does he mean by, "We must not indulge in sexual immorality?"

a. He was only referring to sex with Moabite women.
b. Paul did not know about committed homosexual relationships.
c. There are moral absolutes contained in the scripture that we should learn.
d. Paul was a prude.

6. Who were those 23,000 that fell?

a. Another old myth.
b. Paul proves the Bible is in error because it was 24,000 in my book.
c. Numbers 25:1-9
d. God didn't do it, it was just a venereal disease that we can cure now.

7. What does he mean when he writes about complaints and the destroyer?

a. He is using threats to turn us into sexually repressed people.
b. He is wrong again. We have every right to complain about these rules.
c. There he refers back to Numbers 11:1 again.
d. This whole test is an injustice, the author should be destroyed.

8. When he says these things are "examples" and "were written down to instruct us," should we listen?

a. No, he was talking to people of his time.
b. No, we have moved beyond this type of instruction.
c. Yes, time after time the people of God forget His Word and suffer the consequences.
d. No, none of this stuff will help me get through college.

9. What does he mean by "the ends of the ages have come?"

a. Another of Paul's mistakes. Proven wrong by the fact that we are here.
b. Another of Paul's mistakes. He should have put "end of the age has come."
c. Death has been conquered, our Saviour has come.
d. Ages have split ends.

10. What is that warning about standing and falling all about?

a. He is hung up on sin.
b. He had seen more falling drunks than standing ones.
c. We are just as sinful as those who were killed in the wilderness.
d. Episcopal calisthenics?

11. What does he mean when he writes about common testing?

a. Always connect the ground wire first.
b. He was wrong because God does not test us.
c. All the temptations you encounter have been encountered before, read your Bible.
d. They had to take SATs back then too.

12. What does he mean by "God won't test you beyond your strength?"

a. If God tests us, then he is an "easy A."
b. I can take Him; Bring Him on!
c. God knows our strengths and weaknesses, He knows that we can pass tests such as those of sexual morality.
d. He knows that I have been using that BowFlex he gave me for Christmas.

13. What does he mean by "he will also provide the way out?"

a. He will give us a passing grade just for showing up.
b. He will look the other way when I cheat.
c. He has given us the way out through Christ's death and resurrection.
d. I can walk away from the test if I don't like it.

Correct answers: "c" to all questions.

Somewhere out there in the blogiverse, there has to be a liberal sermon that was delivered this week on 1 Corinthians during which some priestly type explains how it should be ignored. I suspect that many took the easy way out, and simply walked away from the test without mentioning this Epistle.

That sounds like a test for a search engine.

Now just how do I find my way out of here?


  1. Thank you, Pewster. Nicely done.

  2. This was one of the two readings for Missouri Synod Lutherans this week, too. (I attended a Saturday night service as my boys were singing.) Alas, the pastor used the passage as a call to repentance from sin, instead of as an example of outmoded cultural mores.

    Of course, then Sunday, my (Baptist) pastor preached from Joshua and the Israelite defeat at Ai, suggesting that sin in our own lives can have a devastating effect not only on our walk, but on our family and the Church as well, thereby necessitating that we all "search our tents" for buried sin and repent, knowing that our God's grace is sufficient to forgive us.

    It therefore seems like there are a few denominations which are on the same repentance page.


  3. Randall, It sounds like you are in a good place.

    Ah, the sermons are starting to roll in. The Episcopal church's pages "Sermons That Work" posted one which, as expected, makes no mention of Paul's letter.

  4. That sermon you linked to was interesting, but missed the point of the fig tree parable. Perhaps the author doesn't know much about fig cultivation. A fig tree should begin to bear fruit 2-4 years after transplanting. It's very likely Jesus and his audience knew that a fig tree that hadn't borne fruit after four years wasn't likely to and wasn't worth wasting more effort on. So the stay of one more year, coupled with cultivation and manuring, was in fact a last chance. The parable speaks not of bearing fruit in our own good time, but of the urgent need for repentance.