Two cardinal doctrines are taught in 1Corinthians 11. In writing this chapter, apparently the Apostle saw a need for some correction for the home and the church. And these first and greatest of all organizations, the home and the church, need direction yet today. We as God’s people are given to weakness and failure.
I remember a minister in Honduras told me they are never done fixing tires. He said it is the same way in the church. We keep fixing things as they come up.
Isaiah had to face this need in his day. God sent the prophet to give a fair warning to Israel. Addressing her as “virgin daughter of Babylon,” he says in Isaiah 47:2-3, “Take the millstones, and grind meal: uncover thy locks, make bare the leg, uncover the thigh, pass over the rivers. Thy nakedness shall be uncovered, yea, thy shame shall be seen: I will take vengeance, and I will not meet thee as a man.”
We see here a similarity to our day when the dignity of womanhood is ignored. To uncover the locks means to remove the head covering.
In the religious world today we notice woman have taken this same liberty. The men have accepted this attraction, giving sympathy toward it rather than using their authority to correct it. The same verse that talks about removing the covering also speaks of other undress. These deviations from God’s design seem to go hand in hand yet in our day. First they remove the covering, and then eventually they expose more of the body. But in verse 3 God says, “I will not meet thee as a man.”
Many years after Isaiah, the Apostle Paul gave direction for the same Bible doctrine in 1Corinthians 11. Now many more years have passed, but these words have not changed.
A great subject today is the change of culture. To be sure, culture has changed and will continue to change. We do accept good tradition and culture but must reject what is not according to Scripture. Colossians 2:8 says, “Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.”
We have warning here against the traditions of men. What are the rudiments of the world? Are they not the basics of worldly ideas and philosophy? Much of church life today seems to have these basics of the world mixed with an active religion.
As for 1Corinthians 11, certain teachers today say it isn’t for our day or it doesn’t matter. And so they make their own laws. They claim new understandings. But we notice that their new understandings and practices fit very well with the rudiments of the ungodly society around us.
Did Paul waste his ink in writing 1Corinthians 11? Is Scripture this easy to ignore and change? First John 5:3 says, “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.” How can we stumble over and be offended with the Word, and yet say we love the Lord?
In the latter part of 1Corinthians 11 Paul speaks about communion observance. Most churches have no problem observing this ordinance in some way. This teaching of Jesus they consider valid for our day. Is it because this ordinance is more easily accepted and practiced without incurring the scoffing of the world? We have noticed that the teaching on the head covering seems to cause great offense in modern religion.
But just an outward practice of communion is not enough. In verse 18 Paul refers to some hearsay. He hears of divisions and contentions and he partly believes it. How can heresies and false teachings be among God’s people? This sounds strange but it happens, and it often causes contention and quarreling with each other. Once this is in the church, in order to have healing there will need to be a melting and a mending, or the situation will only get worse.
Paul gives direction for keeping the communion table clean. It is not a banquet or a feast, a time to fill your plate and enjoy. No, it is a time to examine ourselves and to remember Jesus’ sacrifice for us. He says, “This do in remembrance of me.”
To keep these two doctrines alive, they must spring from the heart. True religion is more than just noise, thunder and lightning with no rain, but a pure love of God.
Can we hold fast in an ungodly culture? If we as a church remember our true assets in Jesus Christ, we will experience blessings for the future. We can face the future with hope and confidence in the great head of the Church, Jesus Christ. Only He knows how to direct her course. And He is able to guide her through all difficult times. If the Church is faithful, He will certainly do His part by caring for His Bride until that great day when He shall come to take her to be with Him.
“And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure” (1John 3:3).
~ Lebanon, PA