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#17 For the Sake of the Gospel

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FOR THE SAKE OF THE GOSPEL

(A Series on I Corinthians)

Westgate Chapel 8/9/98 a.m.  I Corinthians 9:1-27

PROPOSITION:  For the sake of the Gospel Paul suffered the accusations of opponents, surrendered material compensation, ministered for a higher reward, became a slave to everyone, and made his appetites his slave so as not to be disqualified for the prize.

I. introduction

-     WHAT is the Gospel of Jesus Christ?

      “...it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.” (Romans 1:16)

-     IT is the good news that through Jesus’ death and resurrection God has purchased for you...

*     Forgiveness from sin.

*     Freedom from sin’s dominion over you.

*     Deliverance from sin’s penalty, which is the wrath of God.

*     A place purchased for you in the eternal family of God.

-     IT is through the Gospel of Jesus Christ that we are saved from the wrath of God for sin.

      “He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. (9) They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of his power...” (2 Thessalonians 1:8-9)

-     IT is through the Gospel of Jesus Christ that we are set apart for our inheritance.

      “And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, (14) who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God's possession-- to the praise of his glory.” (Ephesians 1:13-14)

-     IT is through the Gospel of Jesus Christ that our eternal future is guaranteed.

      “This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, (10) but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.” (II Timothy 1:9b-10)

-     ALL this is the free gift of God, received by faith in Jesus Christ.

      “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith-- and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God--(9) not by works, so that no one can boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9)

-     HOW many of you are living by faith in the Gospel of Jesus Christ?

-     WHAT were you before your eyes were opened to this Gospel of Jesus Christ?

-     WHERE would you and I be without the Gospel of Jesus Christ?

-     HOW great is the debt of love that we owe because God first loved us in this way?

-     NO wonder the apostle Paul introduces himself in so many of his epistles by calling himself a servant of the Gospel of Jesus Christ!

-     NO wonder that Paul, without a single complaint recites the trials of his life in service of this great salvation...this Gospel!

      “Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. (25) Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, (26) I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my own countrymen, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false brothers. (27) I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked.” (2 Corinthians 11:24-27)

-     NOTHING is too menial for him, nothing too hard, no journey too far, no pain too severe, no hardship too much....because Paul is driven by the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

-     WHICH is the heart of I Corinthians 9 (page 1133).

-     I CORINTHIANS 9 is one of those chapters that nags at you until you find the heart and center.

-     THE chapter is full of.....

*     Paul, defending his authority as an apostle.

*     Paul, explaining that it is OK for a pastor to make a living from the congregation.....but then saying that he did not do that in Corinth.

*     Paul, describing how he adapts to the situation he is in, becoming a slave to everyone in order to win them for Christ.

*     Paul, beating his appetites into submission so that he not be disqualified for the prize.

-     SO, once again, I laid the whole chapter out in a grammatical diagram, searching for the heart.

-     IF I were teaching I Corinthians I would spend a lesson on each of the themes of chapter 9.

-     BUT preaching I Corinthians 9 is different.

-     I WANT to give you the heart of the chapter.

-     AND then I found it....in verse 23.

      “I do all this for the sake of the gospel...”

-     THERE is the pulse of the apostle Paul’s life.

-     IF you want to know what motivates him, what makes him tick, you have it in verse 23.

-     WHAT is the “all this” that Paul does for the sake of the Gospel?

 

 

II. SUFFERED accusations of opponents

-     FIRST of all, he suffers the accusations of his opponents....for the sake of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

-     HOW many of you know that when you decide to live your life for the Gospel of Christ, there will be opposition to face?

-     PAUL’S detractors were saying that there was no way that he was an apostle!

*     They said, there was no proof that he was an apostle.

*     He didn’t deserve the benefits afforded an apostle.

*     That there was no obligation on the church’s part to support him.

-     THERE were those in Corinth who were trying to undermine Paul’s influence, his authority, and his leadership in the church of Corinth.

-     AND rather than quit or whine about the opposition, Paul answers his critics in verses 1-6....for the sake of the Gospel.

      “Am I not free? Am I not an apostle? Have I not seen Jesus our Lord? Are you not the result of my work in the Lord? (2) Even though I may not be an apostle to others, surely I am to you! For you are the seal of my apostleship in the Lord. (3) This is my defense to those who sit in judgment on me. (4) Don't we have the right to food and drink? (5) Don't we have the right to take a believing wife along with us, as do the other apostles and the Lord's brothers and Cephas? (6) Or is it only I and Barnabas who must work for a living?” (I Corinthians 9:1-6)

 

iii. surrendered material compensation

-     SECOND, Paul surrenders his right to compensation....for the sake of the Gospel.

-     SOME in Corinth were going after Paul’s motivation for being in the ministry....saying that he was in it for the money.

-     SO, to silence them he declines taking any financial remuneration from them.

-     IN fact, in 2 Corinthians 11:8 he says to them,

      “I robbed other churches by receiving support from them so as to serve you.”

-     WHY did he put up with it?

-     FOR the sake of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

-     IN verse7 he builds the argument that it is OK in principle for the preacher of the Gospel to earn his living from the Gospel.

      “Who serves as a soldier at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard and does not eat of its grapes? Who tends a flock and does not drink of the milk? (8) Do I say this merely from a human point of view? Doesn't the Law say the same thing? (9) For it is written in the Law of Moses: "Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain." Is it about oxen that God is concerned? (10) Surely he says this for us, doesn't he? Yes, this was written for us, because when the plowman plows and the thresher threshes, they ought to do so in the hope of sharing in the harvest. (11) If we have sown spiritual seed among you, is it too much if we reap a material harvest from you? (12) If others have this right of support from you, shouldn't we have it all the more? But we did not use this right. On the contrary, we put up with anything rather than hinder the gospel of Christ.” (I Corinthians 9:7-12)

iv. ministered for a higher reward

-     THIRD, Paul is motivated by a higher reward than money...for the sake of the Gospel.

-     SOME in Corinth had been questioning Paul’s lifestyle.

-     IF he wasn’t motivated by money, then what was he working for?

-     VERSE 13,

      “Don't you know that those who work in the temple get their food from the temple, and those who serve at the altar share in what is offered on the altar? (14) In the same way, the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should receive their living from the gospel. (Luke 10:7)(15) But I have not used any of these rights. And I am not writing this in the hope that you will do such things for me. I would rather die than have anyone deprive me of this boast. (16) Yet when I preach the gospel, I cannot boast, for I am compelled to preach. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel! (17) If I preach voluntarily, I have a reward; if not voluntarily, I am simply discharging the trust committed to me. (18) What then is my reward? Just this: that in preaching the gospel I may offer it free of charge, and so not make use of my rights in preaching it.” (I Corinthians 9:13-18)

-     PAUL’S goal in Corinth is to silence those who would avoid the Gospel themselves by making an issue out of Paul’s lifestyle.

-     SO he preaches the Gospel for free in Corinth, supported by believers in Philippi at the time.....for the sake of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

v. BECAME a slave to everyone

-     FOURTH, Paul is willing to become a slave to everyone....for the sake of the Gospel.

-     SOME in Corinth had been questioning Paul’s methodology.

-     HE was not a separatist, or a religious elitist.

-     HE seemed to fit in wherever he was...for the sake of the Gospel.

-     AND that bothered some in Corinth.

-     AND to those Paul writes in verse 19,

      “Though I am free and belong to no man, I make myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. (20) To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. (21) To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God's law but am under Christ's law), so as to win those not having the law. (22) To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some. (23) I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.” (I Corinthians 9:19-23)

-     PLEASE don’t try to use these verse to justify drinking in bars to win alcoholics, or telling off-color jokes to fit in with the gang.

-     PAUL’S concessions here are innocent in themselves.

-     HE is fitting in with the situation he finds himself in...for the sake of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

vi. made his APPETITES his slave

-     LASTLY, Paul makes his appetites his slave...for the sake of the Gospel.

-     THERE were some in Corinth who accused Paul of being soft on sin.

-     AND he answers in verse 24,

      “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. (25) Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. (26) Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. (27) No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.” ( I Corinthians 9:24-27)

 

vii. conclusion

-     WE have gone soft in America.

-     MUCH of the Christianity that we profess has little resemblance to the Christianity of the Bible or in the rest of the world.

*     We quit when things don’t go our way.

*     We get bent out of shape when the pastor doesn’t visit us in the hospital.

*     We complain when the ministry schedule interferes with the rest of our busy lives.

*     We don’t have time for prayer...private or corporate...and get upset when pastor suggests that we have an obligation to be at prayer meeting.

*     When we don’t get the recognition that we believe we deserve, we go into a pout and talk about all we have sacrificed.

*     We want our needs met by the church, but get irritated when someone suggests that we have an obligation to be in ministry.

-     WHAT happened to.... “for the sake of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”?

-     PAUL suffered the accusations of his opponents....for the sake of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

-     PAUL surrendered his right to compensation....for the sake of the Gospel.

-     PAUL was motivated by a higher reward than money in Corinth...for the sake of the Gospel.

-     PAUL was willing to become a slave to everyone....for the sake of the Gospel.

-     PAUL made his appetites his slave...for the sake of the Gospel.

-     HOW about you?

-     THIS Gospel was purchased at so high a price....out of God’s love for you.

-     AND when all else is gone,

*     Your house.

*     Your car.

*     Your education.

*     Your career.

*     Your possessions.

*     Your position.

*     Your title.

*     Your free time.

*     Your leisure activities.

-     WHEN all of these things are gone, the Gospel of Jesus Christ will remain.

*     Your salvation will remain.

*     His nail scarred hands will remain.

*     The bride of Christ will remain.

*     Your righteousness in Christ will remain.

*     The marriage supper of the Lamb will remain.

*     The place that  Jesus has gone to prepare for you will remain.

-     ALL because of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

-     WHAT are you doing for the sake of the Gospel of Jesus Christ?

-     OR doesn’t the Gospel mean that much to you?

 

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