#7: "Diversity is Necessary"
Discussion Questions and Study Guide

Discussion Questions

  • How does having factions reveal the characteristics of Ekklesia? Why did Paul say it was necessary to have factions in the Ekklesia?

    • "For there must also be factions among you, that those who are approved may be recognized among you" (I Cor. 11:19).

  • According to these verses, what are some attributes of the "approved ones"? Give examples of how someone can be strong in one area of "approvedness" and weak in another area.

    • "For the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. For he who serves Christ in these things is acceptable to God and approved by men. Therefore let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which we may edify another" (Rom. 14:17-19).​

  • When Paul says to "examine yourselves" what is he warning his readers to avoid? How can we put this lesson into practice? Ask God where you are we most tempted to be factious?

    • "But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. For this reason, many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep" (I Cor. 11:28-30).​

  • Open discussion question: what did you learn or how were you inspired by this video?

Group Guidelines for Discussion

  1. No one can dominate or monopolize the conversation, rather give an opportunity for everyone to participate.

  2. No one has a final verdict for interpretation.

  3. Everyone is encouraged to participate whether or not they have the popular understanding.

  4. Do not criticize anyone or cast a negative light and treat each other with love and kindness.

Study Outline with Supplemental Scriptures

 

I.  QUESTION: (timestamp 00:27) We have learned a lot about Ekklesia here, and Jesus did say that He would build the Ekklesia, but what is our role in building up the Ekklesia? 

A.  We have a lot to do with this. When Jesus changed Simon's name to Peter, which means "a stone," and Peter remembered that. 

1.  When he wrote his epistles, he said, "You also are living stones for the spiritual house" (1 Peter 2:5-7).

2.  Every believer is immediately made a stone for the LORD's Ekklesia.

B.  So we have a huge role in building up the Ekklesia when we gather as the Ekklesia, shown in I Corinthians 11:17 to 14:40. This is the only description in the epistles concerning what an ekklesia looks like.

1.  This shows us what this physical gathering of believers they called "ekklesia" looks like.

2.  In I Corinthians 14, Paul used the same phrase "build His ekklesia" or "build the LORD's ekklesia."

3.  That shows that we have an essential role in the building of the Ekklesia. 

4.  Jesus did His part by going to the Cross and resurrecting and coming to indwell us as the Spirit.

II.  QUESTION: (timestamp 02:14) What are some important characteristics of the Ekklesia that are often overlooked? 

A.  In Chapter 11, when the Ekklesia came together, there were people from various factions. 

1.  These normally would not come together and remain separated and segregated. 

2.  They are coming together here for the LORD's Ekklesia (I Corinthians 11:19).

B.  In I Corinthians 11:17-34, Paul addresses when the rich and the poor believers came together for a potluck meal. The rich people brought their food, and the poor brought the little that they had.

1.  Instead of coming together to share, the rich believers ate and drank their food and got drunk. (I Corinthians 11:21)

2.  Paul said the poor believers were going hungry because they did not have enough food. (11:21)

3.  Paul was essentially saying, "You are coming together and still staying separate and divided. That is not good. There is no blessing when you do this."

4.  He said, "In fact, you are doing this for the worse, and you are coming together for judgment" (11:17).

5.  That is how bad it is when we come together divided. 

C.  Paul made an interestingly shocking statement there in verse 19, he says, "It is necessary that there are factions among you" (11:19).

1.  For the LORD's Ekklesia, it is necessary that there are believers coming  together from various factions "so that those who are approved may be made manifest" (I Cor. 11:19). 

2.  That is a main characteristic of Ekklesia: there are diverse believers who come together with different perspectives. 

3.  This is one of the hallmarks of democracy to have representation from the various segments of society. 

III.  QUESTION: (timestamp 05:03) Why is it important to have the Ekklesia if we have churches?

A.  Without Ekklesia, we would be only in our own churches because the churches, by definition, are the various factions. 

B.  In Ekklesia, we need representation from believers from diverse perspectives. 

C.  According to Strong's Greek Lexicon, "factions" is αἵρεσις haíresis, hah'-ee-res-is; from G138; properly, a choice, i.e. (especially) a party or (abstractly) disunion:—heresy (which is the Greek word itself), sect. 

IV.  QUESTION: (timestamp 06:10) But let's get back to the approved ones because I am fascinated by that. Who are these "approved ones"?

A.  The Approved Ones: the best way to identify whose these are is in Romans 14 and 15. In Romans 14, there was an ekklesia gathering with two identified factions: the Jewish believers and the Gentile believers. (Romans 14:1-15:13) 

1.  Believers from two major factions came together in Rome (Romans 14:1-23)

2.  They came together for a meal (14:1-4; 14-23)

3.  It was easy for each faction to judge others since they differed due to Jewish dietary differences and convictions (14:1-4).

a)  Gentile believers could judge the Jewish believers for not eating the meat that was sacrificed to idols because they say, "idols are nothing" (Rom. 14:1-4; 14-23; see also I Cor. 8:1-18; I Cor. 10:23-33) 

b) They judge those who say, "I only want to eat vegetables." (Romans 14:2)

4.  Paul said, "Don't judge one another, but to receive one another as Christ received us" (15:7).

5.  The Kingdom of God is not eating or drinking but righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit (14:17).

6.  Those approved serve according to God's Kingdom by seeking peace and that which edifies (14:19).

7.  And they came together to give glory to God in one accord (Romans 15:7-13)

8.  In that gathering, it would be really easy to judge one another.

a)  For the Gentile believers to judge believers for not eating the meat that was sacrificed to idols who say, "idols are nothing" (Romans 14:1-4; 14-23; see also I Corinthians 8:1-18; I Corinthians 10:23-33) 

b)  Or to judge those who say, "I only want to eat vegetables." (Romans 14:2)

B.  The point is there is a tendency to judge one another and not receive one another, so Paul says, "the kingdom of God is not eating or drinking but righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit." (Romans 14:17) 

1.  Then he continues by saying, "Those who serve Christ in these things are acceptable to God and approved by men" (Romans 4:18). 

2.  Those who serve in the Kingdom of God ministering righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit are acceptable to God approved by men. 

3.  And they seek peace and that which builds up one another (Romans 14:19).

4.  These are the "approved ones." They are in the process of being approved in an environment of factions where believers can start an argument or a debate. 

5.  They are the peacemakers who bring in the Kingdom of God by turning believers from focusing on their pet doctrine or their pet cause to focusing on Christ and the Kingdom of God.

V.  QUESTION: (timestamp 08:43) How do I become one "approved"? How do I get the stamp or certificate that says, "I am an approved one"? 

A.  You can't get a certificate that says, "I am approved." The word "approved" means you are in the process of being tested. 

1.  Thayer's Bible Dictionary approved is "accepted, particularly of coins and metals hence, universally, proved, tried." Therefore, all the time and in every situation in the environment of Ekklesia, it is another testing. 

B.  Let me give you an example of addressing political divisiveness (I Cor. 11:18-19).

1.  You have a brother who is on the conservative side of politics, and you have a brother who is liberal. There is a potential conflict. 

2.  Those not approved would be factious arguing and debating their perspectives are superior.

3.  To be approved in this situation, when you notice some conflict, you could say something like, "Brothers, we are in the Kingdom of God. Politics is in the Kingdom of the world, and one of these days, the Kingdom of God will replace the kingdoms of this world. Right now, we are living in the Kingdom of this world. Whether it is right or left, Republican or Democrat, it is still the Kingdom of this world. Let's get back to focusing on righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit." 

4.  Another question you can ask is, "Did either political party die for us?"

5.  Those statements might defuse their conflict of right or left or Republican or Democrat. 

6.  Now they are in peace in the Kingdom of God. 

C.  If I could do that in the area of politics, then I would be tested as approved. But let's say there is another situation:

1.  Two people are arguing. One person is arguing the doctrine of "once saved; always saved." Another person is arguing that you can lose your salvation.  

2.  Then let's say I join that discussion and take a side by saying something like, "Certainly, 'once saved always saved' is correct because there is eternal security." 

3.  If I take that side during an argument, I lose my peacemaking ability because the person who believes you can lose your salvation would view me as a part of the faction of the person with whom they are arguing. I would have failed the test.

4.  Now someone else is needed to come in who will say something like, "Brother or Sister, how are we saved? 

5.  Did any of these doctrines save us? Did "once saved; always saved" as a doctrine save you? Or did the doctrine of losing your salvation save you? 

6.  The answer, of course, is, "No!" We would again turn our attention to drop the prominence of these doctrines and say, "Yes, it is Jesus Christ who saved us!" 

7.  This other person, as a peacemaker, is bringing those other brothers to look at Jesus to see their common faith so that they would have fellowship in that common faith.

D.  You say, "How do you become approved?" The LORD's prayer in John 17 answered this question. He says He gave us eternal life, gave us the Word (which is the Truth), gave us His glory. If we would see and enjoy those three gifts as believers, we would grow more and more into a peacemaker. 

1.  The great thing about a peacemaker (aka an approved person) is that it can be anyone. This person could be male or female of any age. 

2.  Sometimes a younger person can be a better peacemaker than an older person who is set in their ways.

3.  Stepping into the role of peacemaker is an open field for anyone to participate in the gathering of the Ekklesia. 

4.  Approved is not a position that someone holds but an ability to lift up Jesus Christ in a situation of conflict.

5.  Being "approved" means that you are constantly being tested.

6.  Everyone is in the process of being tested to focus more on Jesus.

7.  I can be approved in one area and not in another area.

VI.  QUESTION: (timestamp 13:02) What does Paul teach us about keeping our convictions and still function as a peacemaker or an "approved one"? 

A.  In Romans 14 continues to say, Paul said, "Whatever your conviction is, that is between you and God" (Rom. 14:22). 

1.  In Ekklesia, our goal is righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit and not to try to convince each other of our convictions (14:17).

2.  Yes, we are free to keep our convictions until God changes whatever that conviction is. That is between God and us. We are not trying to convert them to our personal convictions.

3.  They have their personal conviction, but for peace in the Ekklesia, Paul tells them to keep these convictions between them and God.

B.  In the Ekklesia, we are told not to use our convictions to create a stumbling block for another person.  

1.  I may have the personal conviction I can eat this meat that was offered to idols because idols are nothing to me (Romans 14; I Corinthians 8).

2.  But if I try to push this conviction on you so that you will be like me, then we have a problem. 

3.  Doing this could create a stumbling block for you, and then I would face the judgment seat of Christ (Romans 14:10).

C.  To summarize Romans 14, we need to care for one another, love one another and not create a stumbling block for each other in the Ekklesia.

VII.  QUESTION: (timestamp 15:03) This is a diverse gathering of believers from different churches, denominations, or even no church affiliation. So why is it important in this context that we would take the LORD's supper or communion together in this gathering in an ekklesia?

A.  First of all, that is the way it is described in I Corinthians 11 (I Corinthians 11:23-24), which we see them following the pattern of Jesus' Last Supper in Matthew 26.

1.  After a meal, they had communion (I Cor. 11:20-21, 33).

2.  Paul states in this chapter they did the communion (aka LORD's supper) to remember Jesus' death (I Cor. 11:23-26).

3.  "Take eat, this is My Body and when you eat of this remember Me" (I Cor. 11:24).

4.  This Cup is the blood of the New Covenant. Drink of this in remembrance of Me (I Cor. 11:25).

B.  So the communion (the Bread and the Cup) is to cause believers of from all factions to focus on Jesus. It is in the unique focus on Jesus that beleivers are one. Sadly, we have used communion as a tool of division! How many churches have been divided because they argue over how to have communion?! 

1.  There many questions and debates about communion: Is it wine or grape juice? Is it leavened or unleavened bread? Is the wafer square or round? Who can administer the elements? Who can take the elements? 

2.  There many divisions, which is sad since this symbol is a symbol of our union. This symbol is designed to help us remember our common salvation and our common faith, not to divide us!

3.  So this symbol is a symbol of eating and drinking Jesus. 

4.  The Truth is we are eating and drinking of Jesus, not how you administer the elements or how to practice.

VIII.  QUESTION: (timestamp 17:30) Paul says, "He who does not eat in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the LORD's Body. For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep." (I Corinthians 11:29-30). What does Paul mean by this idea of "eating in an unworthy manner" or "eating worthily" within the context of the Ekklesia?

A.  The verse right before the one you quoted says, "examine yourself" (I Corinthians 11:28). This verse has often been used to teach to examine your personal sins.

1.  These teachers say, "Make sure you confess to the LORD of your sins before you partake of these elements of the communion (the bread and the cup)."

2.  Amen! There is nothing wrong with that. We should confess our sins. That is a good idea, but that is not the context of this passage. 

3.  The context here is that there are divisions. 

4.  They were divided, and Paul said, "Their coming together was for the worse," and there were "factions" among them (see I Corinthians 11:17-19).

B.  And then he says they are going to partake of the table (see I Corinthians 11:20-27)

1.  This table of the Bread and the Cup represents the entire Body of Christ! 

a)  That Bread we partake of is not just the people in that room.

b)  Rather the Bread represents the entire Body of Christ (I Cor. 10:16-17).

2.  Paul is saying, "Examine yourself! Are you factious?"

a)  Factious means you are actively causing division or rejecting fellowship with a fellow believer.

b)  Therefore, we can be associated with a faction and not be factious.

C. The word "examine" is from the same Greek word as "approved." 

1.  Therefore, Paul is telling his readers to approve or examine themselves. 

2.  Essentially, he is saying, "Are you going to let your opinion or your position on a particular doctrine, cultural, or political perspective keep you from fellowshipping with other believers?

D.  Paul is telling his readers to examine themselves and discern that this is the Body of Christ. 

1.  Discern that you are part of the Body of Christ. 

2.  If you discern this and you are partaking of the Body of Christ, then you are doing it "worthily." 

3.  If you do not discern the Body of Christ, then you are partaking unworthily. That is why there is a judgment on our divisions. 

4.  It is so important to recognize our oneness and our acceptance of all kinds of believers. 

5.  Paul is teaching that the point of the LORD's Supper is that we receive all kinds of believers in participating in the LORD Jesus as we eat and drink Jesus together.

 

 

Group Guidelines for Discussion

  1. No one can dominate or monopolize the conversation, rather give an opportunity for everyone to participate.

  2. No one has a final verdict for interpretation.

  3. Everyone is encouraged to participate whether or not they have the popular understanding.

  4. Do not criticize anyone or cast a negative light and treat each other with love and kindness.


 

Discussion Questions

  • How does having factions reveal the characteristics of Ekklesia? Why did Paul say it was necessary to have factions in the Ekklesia?

    • "For there must also be factions among you, that those who are approved may be recognized among you" (I Cor. 11:19).

  • According to these verses, what are some attributes of the "approved ones"? Give examples of how someone can be strong in one area of "approvedness" and weak in another area.

    • "For the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. For he who serves Christ in these things is acceptable to God and approved by men. Therefore let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which we may edify another" (Rom. 14:17-19).​

  • When Paul says to "examine yourselves" what is he warning his readers to avoid? How can we put this lesson into practice? Ask God where you are we most tempted to be factious?

    • "But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. For this reason, many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep" (I Cor. 11:28-30).​

  • Open discussion question: what did you learn or how were you inspired by this video?