July 20, 1969 (tape
207-A, CD 20)
This morning this sermon
is from I Corinthians the 8th chapter, and the principal part of it is in the
1.) "Now concerning
food offered to idols, we know that all of us possess knowledge. Knowledge puffs
up, but love builds up.
2.) If anyone imagines
that he knows something, he does not yet know as he ought to know.
3.) But if one knows
God, one is known by him.
4.) Hence, as to the
eating of food offered to idols we know that an idol has no real existence, and
that there is no God but one.
5.) For although there
may be so-called gods, in heaven or on earth, (as indeed there are many gods,
and many lords)
6.) Yet for us there is
but one, the Father from whom are all things, and for whom we exist; and one
Lord Jesus Christ, through whom are all things, and through whom we exist.
7.) However, not all possess this knowledge: but some, though being hitherto accustomed to idols eat food as really offered to an idol and their conscience being weak is defiled."
There are two points that I want to make here which I feel are needed this morning. And that is the fact that knowledge in itself from that of books is not the knowledge of God alone. For man has changed books and man has changed testaments, but the real knowledge that cometh from within cometh from God.
Love does build up as long as we use it the way it comes from our Father. And one of the important points of our text this morning is that if we know something, we imagine that we know something, he does not yet know as he ought to know. For there is in this a great reality and it comes to, also it is tied in with one of the sayings of Jesus that "He who is first shall be last and he who is last shall be first." In other words you haven't made it until you have totally cast all aside. You don't know until you have cast all your knowing aside.
For out of the inner man there is truth and this truth is of God. And Paul here says that there are gods and there are lords but these are not those which we seek to worship. Now he did not say that they did not have the truth. He did not say that they were not right in their words and none of the places in the scripture or in the old references do these things exist. What he was saying was the same thing that the first verse of the commandments gives, the first commandment. We look to God first and then all things will be added unto us.
And if we look to another man as the Father of all creation then we have made a mistake. Many times in my life I have had one of these great profound people come up and say, "Why do you allow people to call you 'Father'? Don't you know there is but one Father?" And I say, "Then there are an awful lot of people that are very wicked 'cause I've heard many people called Father in my life. Many people. In fact I don't think there's anybody here that hasn't called somebody 'Father'.
The only trouble, the only thing that is wrong with these people is the fact that they're trying to find an 'out'. Because they haven't reached the point where they can communicate with the Lord of this earth. And so they've got to cover up somehow. So they will find some meticulously fine point of scripture to use in their own way.
Sure, there are many gods and many lords. Do you mean we believe in Grecian mythology? No, not at all. I think it has a lot more of the truth than what some of the churches teach, yes. I think they're a lot closer to being right than what some of the churches are after man has gotten through with his dogma. For I'm sure that God created the stars and I'm awfully sure that God didn't create some of the things that are taught. That's for sure. There is but one God and that's all we have to know. And He's the Father of all creation. If we keep that straight in our mind we can call anybody mother or father that acts like one.
And the other most important point that we have in our text for us today is the fact that we must take exceeding care in our actions. For he says here: "For if anyone sees you, a man of knowledge, at the table in an idols temple, might he not be encouraged if his conscience is weak to eat food offered to the idols?" And I think this lesson could be taken to many of our students and many of our young preachers. Just because you have reached beyond the point where all the little things aren't going to be wrong for you. Just because I can go out and drink a pint of scotch if I wanted to and it wouldn't make any difference to me, that is no sign that I should do it. Because you can't do it and therefore I am putting a stumbling block in your way.
And you know when you put a stumbling block in another man's way just to appease your own personal desires you have a problem on your hands. And when you are not a brother to a brother you have a problem on your hands because you have put a stumbling block in the way of your brother. Out of the midst of all of these things we have to come back to a plain, trite old saying from my old friend Emerson: "Your actions speak so loud I can't hear what you say." And this is true, and we could, pretty nearly follow Jesus Christ perfectly and our Father in heaven if we took those two things: The first commandment and Emerson's famous saying. You know, we wouldn't go very far wrong.
Oh, I have gotten, over the years, many, many, many, more years than what most people here can imagine even, so tired of listening to people's opinions, so tired of listening to people's dogmatic teaching. But I know the absolute cure for all of it, and that's always one thing: You don't have to contradict it if it's not right. All I have to do is take them out in the kitchen and say, "We've got to get a meal for these hungry people," and see if they'll dig in up to their elbows in the dishes and helping to clean and helping to do things. Greatest little antidote in the world for all the dogmas. Take them out on the street and see if they will go with you. For it's the greatest little antidote in the world because they aren't going to go unless they've got really something inside that loves their brother. They aren't going to go unless there's a little bit of that Light of Christ within them and that they are dedicated to it. That they really know that there is a Light and not an understanding.
For I don't care who the man is or who the prophet is or who the teacher is, until they get down to the basic fundamentals, if they try to set up anything outside of the basic teachings of the Father in this Universe they are worshipping idols. And if they worship idols they are cutting themselves off from the power of God. I have had, and there isn't a teacher alive who hasn't had, alive or otherwise, that hasn't had people try to do some of these foolish things. But you cannot permit it.
I'm not going to be here for, I hope, too awful long and I want to get this job done and away. There's lots of other things to do. Don't you know that you are being prepared to take care of your Father's household? You have to work with other people whether you like it or whether you don't. Because if you cannot work with them joyfully, if you cannot go into the Baptist church, the Spiritualist church and into the Christian Science church and into the Catholic church and feel at home whether they teach all the truth or not, that doesn't matter. The symbol of what it represents is there. And until you can go in there and feel at home and accept your brothers, (I didn't say you had to accept what they teach entirely. All you have to do is accept the teachings of our Lord Jesus and of the Father Almighty), and be happy with them, you haven't got brotherhood in your veins. You haven't got the love of Christ; you haven't got the love of God in you even. And anyway, if you are prejudiced, you are wrong.
If you think there is but one way of doing God's Will except the following of the great commandments, then you are wrong. Because these things which God laid down are too basic, they encompass all the teachings of man. There are certain things, and this is just what the text says: 'When you think you know, you have not known yet. Because he who knows, has not known. But he who knows not, knows all.' This is an absolute fact. And anyone who has traveled this path for any great length of time knows that the Master was the same way. Simple, very simple. No great lengthy books did he write. No great lengthy discourses. The shortest sermons in the world, all of them, because every word and every letter was truth. And they brought the light and the love to the people.
And when a teaching condemns, then you have a problem because you have untruth. Oh, this morning, if we could but get with the Light of our Master and stop worrying about everything else. I don't care whether you've ever gone to school. Whether you know how to read English. Whether you know how to do anything. You know that doesn't stop you from receiving the Light of Christ within you. This doesn't stop you from knowing the Master of all creation here. This doesn't stop you from knowing God within.
For the Spirit becomes weary of much reading. Let us try to understand, instead of trying to flaunt our knowledge which is so small - so small -- in front of others. Let us try to search ourselves to understand the simplicities of the wonders of our creation that our Father has created. To know better, to feel, to sense, to see the Light that is within us. This is all we need, for all the knowledge in the world won't do us any good when we have left this vehicle behind. Only then can we truly realize how much we depend on the infinite wisdom of the Self.
Jesus, bring it to them this day. Bring it to them that thy Light may be their way.
In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, Amen.