God's Plan In the Church:

Study Guide
by David Chadwell

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Lesson Five

In much of the last fifty years of the first century, a person converted from Judaism to Christianity often was rejected by the nation of Israel, the synagogue, the extended family, and the immediate family. As Jews, these converts were part of a powerful community that filled many roles and needs in their lives. They lost their community.

A person converted from idolatry to Christianity often was rejected by the pagan community. The converts had been part of a community that filled many roles and needs in their lives: politically, socially, religiously, and economically. They lost their community.

Converts desperately needed a community to fill the roles and needs formerly met by the Jewish community or the pagan community. A person as an individual might function well in our society without community. But that was not possible in that time, world, and age that had no insurance, social security, Medicare, or government agencies required to function without discrimination.

If we read the epistles with insights and understandings into the first century world and societies, we see several things. (1) Christians were to form a superior community. (2) As in former communities, commitment to deity (or deities) was the foundation of community. The Christian deity was the living, creator God who sacrificed His Son in a human death to be the perfect, loving Savior. (3) Ungodly behavior must be recognized as ungrateful, disrespectful treatment of a loving, merciful God and an attack on the Christian community. (4) Neither external nor divine control governed the Christian community. A common love for God and for each other formed, shaped, and guided the Christian community.

When Christians committed to Jesus Christ, they immediately experienced an enormous need for each other. If the Christian community was to succeed as God's family, their love of Christ must move them to deeply, genuinely love and respect each other. They must understand that ungodliness was more than an insult to God. It was more than abuse of the Christ. It was also an assault on the Christian community.

Because the church existed as a Christian community, they could do things successfully that we cannot.

Read 1 Corinthians 5:1-13.

1. The case of immorality that existed among the Christians at Corinth (a man living with his father's wife) did not even exist among whom (verse 1)? In the context of the situation and times, explain the meaning of that statement.

2. How did the Christians responded to the situation (verse 2)? How should they have responded? Contrast the arrogance response with the mourning response. What would the mourning response do? Which response cared about the ungodly Christian?

3. What had Paul decided was the appropriate response (verses 3-5)?

4. What was not good (verses 6-8)? Why was there boasting?

5. What would a little yeast do? Explain the meaning of this statement. How did an arrogant, boasting response encourage the yeast? What was different about a mourning response? In this context, is yeast a good or bad symbol?

6. What should they do with the "old leaven?" Here, what was the "old leaven?"

7. Christ is our Passover (Jewish analogy). What must not be used to celebrate the Passover of Christ? What should be used?

8. When Paul wrote not to associate with immoral people, who were excluded (verses 9,10)? Why?

9. When Paul gave that instruction, about whom was Paul speaking (verse 11)?

10. Why did Paul make his contrast between judging those in the church and those outside the church (verses 12,13)?

11. Read verse 5. Specify the reason for not associating with the immoral Christian. Was the objective to abandon him, destroy him, or restore him? Explain your answer.

12. Why would the act of abandoning the ungodly Christian work then? Why does it (commonly) not work today?

In the 1960s in the region in which I lived and preached. it was commonly advocated that church discipline would "correct conditions in the church." A common conviction and statement then: "If we would discipline Christians we would not have any problems in the church."

Discipline produces healthy results only when loving relationships exist. Discipline without love is a power play to establish control. Discipline without love is abuse.

David Chadwell

Christians Nurturing Christians Study Guide (lesson 5)
Wednesday evening Bible class, Summer Quarter 1999
West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Copyright © 1999
Permission is granted to freely copy and distribute with text unchanged, including author's name.
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