“Keep the Ordinances, As I Delivered Them”
Lesson 34 – 1 Corinthians 11-16
A railroad switch point is a location on a railroad track where a train can be switched from one track to another. The following experience was related by Elder Gordon B. Hinckley: “Many years ago I worked in the head office of one of our railroads. One day I received a telephone call from my counterpart in Newark, New Jersey, who said that a passenger train had arrived without its baggage car. The patrons were angry. “We discovered that the train had been properly made up in Oakland, California, and properly delivered to St. Louis, from which station it was to be carried to its destination on the east coast. But in the St. Louis yards, a thoughtless switchman had moved a piece of steel just three inches. That piece of steel was a switch point, and the car that should have been in Newark, New Jersey, was in New Orleans, Louisiana, thirteen hundred miles away” (Ensign, Jan. 1973, 91).
How could such a seemingly small change (three inches) have such a significant effect on the location of the baggage car (1300 miles)? As you consider this, think about some potential switch points in your life—events, decisions, new knowledge, or anything that changes the direction of your life. Switch points can be negative if they lead you from the truth or positive if they put you back on the right track.
The last chapters of Paul’s first epistle to the Corinthians address four doctrinal switch points where the Corinthians had departed from the truth. As you study Paul’s teachings in these chapters, you can strengthen your commitment to follow the path of righteousness that will lead to our Father in Heaven. Recognize the importance of living according to the doctrines of the gospel and receiving priesthood ordinances.
1 Cor. 11:3 Paul spoke of three relationships—1) man and Christ, 2) man and woman, and 3) Christ and his Father. Paul included all of these relationships together because they are all vital to achieving salvation and exaltation.
John 5:20; John 8:29; John 17:21-22 Qualities that exist in the relationship between Jesus Christ and his Father include love, concern for each other, a close companionship, and a unity of purpose. These are qualities that we can develop in our relationship with Jesus Christ. Husbands and wives can also develop these qualities in their relationship.
1 Cor. 11:11 teaches that “neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord”—they must be as one. This relationship of husband and wife is so important in the kingdom of God because the family is the basic unit in the kingdom of God and provides the purpose for eternal existence. The importance of this relationship should give us enlightenment about how husbands and wives should treat each other—as equal and indispensable partners.
President Marion G. Romney taught: “[A husband and wife] should be one in harmony, respect, and mutual consideration. Neither should plan or follow an independent course of action. They should consult, pray, and decide together. … Remember that neither the wife nor the husband is the slave of the other. Husbands and wives are equal partners” (Ensign, Mar. 1978, 2, 4).
Consider how these relationships can act as positive or negative “switch points” in your life.
1 Cor. 11:18-22 Many of the Saints in Corinth were not observing the purpose of the sacrament service. Instead of focusing on the sacrament ordinance, they were contending with each other and eating and drinking to excess.
1 Cor. 11:20 (footnote 20b provides the Joseph Smith Translation of this verse - “Is it not to eat the Lord’s supper?”). Here we are asked to consider the primary purpose of sacrament meeting.
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland taught: “With so very much at stake, [the sacrament] should be taken more seriously than it sometimes is. It should be a powerful, reverent, reflective moment. It should encourage spiritual feelings and impressions. As such it should not be rushed. It is not something to ‘get over’ so that the real purpose of a sacrament meeting can be pursued. This is the real purpose of the meeting”(Ensign, Nov. 1995, 68).
1 Cor. 11:23-26; (also see Luke 22:19-20) According to Paul, the purposes of the sacrament are to remember the Lord’s sacrifice which was given for us. Consider individually how you can improve your ability to stay focused in your mind and heart on Jesus as you partake of the sacrament.
1 Cor. 11:27-29 Paul taught about the importance of partaking of the sacrament worthily—and warned those who partake of the sacrament unworthily. Examining our worthiness an important part of the sacrament and should be done each time we participate in the ordinance.
Consider how partaking of the sacrament has blessed you. And think about how you can make this ordinance more meaningful in your life. Ponder how your attitude toward the sacrament can be a “switch point” in your life.
1 Cor. 14:2-14, 27-28 Paul’s letter suggests that the Saints in Corinth may have placed too much importance on the gift of tongues. In chapters 12-14, Paul explains that all the gifts of the Spirit are important, but that the Saints should seek gifts that will be for the benefit of all.
1 Cor. 12:7-11; D&C 46:11 Spiritual gifts are spiritual blessings or abilities, such as those listed in these verses, given through the Holy Ghost.
D&C 46:26 God gives spiritual gifts for the benefit of his children.
1 Cor. 12:8-10; Moro. 10:8-17, and D&C 46:13-25 As you consider these verses, think about the gifts of the Spirit you have personally experienced or observed and how those gifts have blessed you or others.
1 Cor. 12:12-25 Paul compared the members of the Church to different parts of the body to show that each member is important to the other members and to the Church as a whole. We can apply this comparison to the different gifts of the Spirit as we realize that each gift is necessary and contributes to the progress of the Lord’s work and the blessing of the Saints and their families.
1 Cor. 12:31; D&C 46:8 The scriptures counsel us to seek spiritual gifts
1 Cor. 14:12; D&C 46:9 Our reasons for seeking spiritual gifts should include the edifying of the Church. (To edify is to build up, instruct, improve, and enlighten.)
1 Cor. 13 Paul taught that charity is the greatest of all spiritual gifts. Carefully consider each of the fourteen (14) attributes of charity mentioned in verses 4-7, and ponder how you apply them in your life.
1 Cor. 13:1-3, 8-13 Paul teaches that charity is more important than any other spiritual gift. Ponder how you have been blessed by someone who has shown charity toward you.
Moro. 7:44-48 teaches that we can develop greater charity by sincere and fervent prayer to the Father that we may be filled with this love, and by acting as a true follower of Christ
Now take a moment to consider how charity can act as a “switch point” in your life.
1 Cor. 15:12 Many of the Corinthians had begun to dispute the reality of the Resurrection.
1 Cor. 15:5-8 Witnesses of the Resurrection cited by Paul include Cephas—then of the twelve, over five hundred brethren, James the Apostle, and Paul himself.
2 Cor. 13:1 Paul cited many witnesses of the Resurrection to assure his listeners that this testimony was shared by many and could not be rightly disputed. Consider why witnesses of the Resurrection are important to you.
1 Cor. 15:20-23 Paul taught about the relationship between the Fall of Adam and the Resurrection—that by man came death and by Christ came the resurrection from death.
1 Cor. 15:29 Paul used the doctrine of baptism for the dead to teach that the ordinance of baptism for the dead would be meaningless without the Resurrection.
1 Cor. 15:35-44 Paul taught about the kingdoms of glory—stating that we are resurrected into different kingdoms of glory—celestial, terrestrial, or telestial. (See also D&C 88:27-32) Ponder carefully how your knowledge of the Resurrection and the kingdoms of glory influences the way you live.
It is vital that we follow the doctrines that will lead us back to our Father in Heaven. Examine your own life for switch points—attitudes and actions that, if followed, could change the direction of your life. Choose directions that will affect your life positively.