The first meeting of the Mineral Wells Wednesday Bible Study Club for the new year was Sept. 13 at the Black Horse Restaurant.
Sara Simmons served as both hostess and lesson leader. She opened with prayer.
After being off for the summer, the lesson picked back up with I Corinthians, Chapter 10. By way of review was the reminder that the founding of the church at Corinth is recorded in Acts 18. Paul went to Corinth from Athens during his second missionary journey in about AD 51. While there, he worked as a tentmaker with a Jewish Christian couple, Aquila and Priscilla, recent exiles from Rome. Silas and Timothy joined them there, and when Paul left Corinth a year and a half later, there was a flourishing Christian congregation comprised primarily of former pagans and some Jews.
While in Ephesus, during his third missionary journey in AD 55, Paul learned that things were not well in Corinth. It is reasonably certain that he wrote four letters to the Corinthian church and paid three visits trying to keep these new Christians, who were freshly freed from paganism, out of threatening situations – situations that would lead them away from the teachings of Jesus and from learning to live a new life in Christ. Some specific issues with which the Corinthians were dealing were concerned with sexual behavior, marriage, and eating food previously offered to idols. He appealed, also, for responsible use of Christian freedom – not for self-gain, but in consideration for others and warned against becoming fixed on anything that could lead to idolatry.
In Chapter 10, to stress his concerns, Paul begins by reminding them of Israel’s history. Specifically, he talks about the loving care God provided as they wandered in the wilderness during the Exodus. They escaped from the Egyptians across the parted Red Sea; they were guided by God’s presence by a cloud; they feasted on manna and quail in the desert; and they were provided water supernaturally. One would think the Israelites would have responded with gratitude and praise. Instead, they repeatedly complained, to Moses and to God, about their conditions in the desert; they committed idolatry by worshipping a golden calf; their grumbling turned into rebellion, resulting in widespread plaque; and they engaged in sexual immorality with women of Moab as participation in worship of Baal.
Paul lays the history lessons right at the feet of his readers, as Corinthian Christians were beginning to behave in a similar way as the early Israelites. Pagan temple feasts in Corinth involved idolatry and sexual sins, testing God’s patience. It is a mistake to think God is indifferent when believers do wrong in rebellion. He disciplines those He loves. Paul urges them to rely on God’s strength and yield to the power of his indwelling spirit.
Paul spends quite a bit of time discussing the issue of whether or not the Corinthian Christians should eat meat that was previously used as a sacrifice to idols. This may seem very strange today, but, apparently, it was a big question for them. Summarizing Paul’s position is that the food itself is neither good nor bad, but takes on a significance depending on how the Christian or a pagan dinner host views the practice. He also, contrasts the Christian’s partaking of Communion in remembrance of Jesus Christ’s sacrifice and the pagan sacrifice to false gods.
A Christian should not do anything that might make a fellow Christian stumble in the faith or to present a hindrance to someone coming into the faith. Chapter 10 ends with the following: “The overall rule is that love for others should dictate a Christian believer’s choices and behavior.”
Following the lesson, club President Lynn Waddy conducted a short business meeting, presenting this year’s officers and yearbooks, and introducing new members. Nikki Murphy completed the meeting with intercessory and closing prayers.