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For The Sake Of The Gospel - 9:15-23

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1 Corinthians   •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  52:20
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Introduction

As we begin I want us to listen to the words of a song. It’s called “Give Me Your Eyes.”
4:02
This song is the plea of a mans heart to see people how God does.
As we work our way through this passage I believe we see the heart of the Apostle Paul for the lost.
He wanted people to be saved.
Two pictures.
What Paul will speak about is varying methods.
Our methods must vary because people vary. Times change. Generational differences.
The message doesn’t change. The methods must change.
That is what Paul speaks to here.
Principle:
The believe in Jesus Christ must live for the sake of the gospel.
Guidance:
If we are going to do all things for the sake of the gospel two truths must describe us.
Outcome:
As we live for the gospel we become effective witness for Jesus Christ.
2 truths.
Truth #1. To do all things for the sake of the gospel we must…

1. Live With Gospel Priority vv. 15-18

There are members of my family that are very much into sports.
They are so into certain sports that they will attempt to listen to games on the radio, even when the reception is bad.
We will be driving in the car listening to mostly static with an occasionally discernable name or statistic making its garbled way through the noise.
Why would they put up with the annoyance of barely hearing the announcers?
Because listening to that game is a priority for them.
When something is a top level priority, we endure much personal inconvenience to participate in that priority.
To Paul, the gospel was a priority.
Because the gospel was his priority, he endured personal inconvenience, personal discomfort, so that he could tell others about Jesus.
How do you make the gospel your priority?
You take two actions.
Action #1. To make the gospel your priority…

a. Voluntarily limit your freedom vv. 15-16

1 Corinthians 9:15 NKJV
15 But I have used none of these things, nor have I written these things that it should be done so to me; for it would be better for me to die than that anyone should make my boasting void.
Paul has just been talking about how the church has a responsibility to pay the one who ministers to them spiritually.
So, Paul has a right to be paid.
But.
He has voluntarily set aside that right.
He has exercised his freedom in Christ to abstain from payment.
He is clear, he’s not writing to get them pay him.
He is laying out a principle, the payment of pastors, so that he can illustrate how freedom in Christ works.
The Corinthians have a responsibility to pay Paul.
He has the freedom to not be paid if he believes that will enable him to better minister in that context.
When we sacrifice for the sake of others there is justifiable pride in that.
Paul has not taken advantage of his rights. He has chosen to not be paid. This is ample cause for boasting.
What is Paul doing?
He is setting aside his rights to minister to others.
He is arranging his life to minister.
For us this can manifest in a lot of ways.
Do we prioritize church?
Then we arrange our day around church.
Do we prioritize family?
We arrange our day around family.
Bible reading, prayer, reaching out to others.
These are priorities that require us to adjust our schedules to make them happen.
Following Christ was never intended to be convenient.
Following Christ requires sacrifice.
At the very beginning of Paul’s ministry this is what he was told.
Acts 9:16
Acts 9:16 NKJV
16 For I will show him how many things he must suffer for My name’s sake.”
Paul is sacrificing so that he can minister to people.
Look at v. 16.
1 Corinthians 9:16 NKJV
16 For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for necessity is laid upon me; yes, woe is me if I do not preach the gospel!
Paul’s point here is that he doesn’t boast in preaching the gospel, that is a matter of obedience.
He boasts in limiting his freedom so that he can better preach the gospel.
This word “preach” is not the idea of what I am doing right now.
A better translation would be “proclaim.”
Preach the gospel – εὐαγγελίζω (euangelizō) proclaim good news. to convey the Gospel v. — to bring the good news concerning the now present instantiation of Jesus’ divine dominion and way of salvation by His death and resurrection. Finite verb, present, middle, subjunctive, first person, singular.
Preach the gospel – εὐαγγελίζω (euangelizō)
All of us have been commanded by God to proclaim the gospel.
It is not optional.
We don’t boast in doing our responsibilities.
In the same way, we don’t boast because we read our bible or went to church or spent time in prayer.
We are commanded to do those things!
When we do them we are simply doing what God requires.
Paul says that “necessity is laid upon” him.
Necessity – ἀνάγκη (anankē) necessity; pressure; distress. necessity n. — the state of being absolutely required. Noun (subject), nominative, singular, feminine.
Necessity – ἀνάγκη (anankē)
Sharing the gospel is absolutely required.
Paul says “woe is me if I do not preach the gospel!”
Failure to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ leaves us worthy of judgment!
Failure to preach the gospel is not an option. Woe is all that awaits us.
What we learn here is very important.
Personal freedom is not primary.
The Christian life is not about comfort or personal happiness.
We have a job to do!
We live for the sake of the gospel, that is our priority.
Paul voluntarily sets aside his right to be paid.
He limits his freedom so that he can reach people with the gospel.
Are we willing to do this?
How important is the gospel?
Gospel proclamation requires sacrifice.
We sacrifice time, comfort, and freedom.
That is how important the gospel is.
How do you make the gospel your priority?
You take two actions.
Action #1. To make the gospel your priority voluntarily limit your freedom.
Action #2. To make the gospel your priority…

b. Consistently proclaim the gospel vv. 17-18

Verse 17
1 Corinthians 9:17 NKJV
17 For if I do this willingly, I have a reward; but if against my will, I have been entrusted with a stewardship.
When we share the gospel willingly, there is a reward.
What is that reward? We find out in the next verse.
The condition for reward is willingness.
However, Paul mentions that he may share the gospel against his will.
What does that mean?
Paul has been commanded to share the gospel, as have we all.
But what happens if we don’t want to do it?
Does that mean we don’t have to?
No. It does not.
We have been entrusted with a stewardship.
What does that mean?
Stewardship – οἰκονομία (oikonomia) stewardship; administration task n. — a specific piece of administrative work required to be done as a duty. Noun (direct object), accusative, singular, feminine.
Stewardship – οἰκονομία (oikonomia)
We have a task, we have work that is required of us.
There are no valid excuses for not sharing the gospel.
Don’t know how? We did a Sunday school class on that. Listen to it on our website.
Don’t “have that gift?” Learn how to do it.
It is a matter of obedience.
We have a choice, to obey or disobey.
Look at verse 18.
1 Corinthians 9:18 NKJV
18 What is my reward then? That when I preach the gospel, I may present the gospel of Christ without charge, that I may not abuse my authority in the gospel.
Paul’s reward is found in preaching the gospel for free. Why? So that he cannot be accused of abusing his authority in the gospel.
He has the authority to demand payment.
That is his right.
He has chosen not to exercise that.
Paul doesn’t want them to think that the only reason he ministered and shared the gospel was because he was getting paid for it!
This verse reflects for us Paul’s decision to preach the gospel.
He is going to do it.
He will not be forced.
What about us?
What decision will we make?
My prayer is that each and every one of us will be able to echo Paul’s words in Romans 1:16.
Romans 1:16
Romans 1:16 NKJV
16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.
Don’t be ashamed of the gospel!
For people to be saved, we must proclaim it!
I want to Pause for a second and address a very important point.
What is the gospel Paul is talking about?
Here in verse 18 Paul calls it the gospel of Christ.
The word gospel means good news.
What is the good news about Jesus Christ?
He died on the Cross for our sin!
We could do nothing to save ourselves.
The only hope we have, the only hope anyone has, comes through faith in Jesus Christ.
We are all going to die.
What happens next depends on if we choose to trust in Jesus.
The eternal souls of people hang in the balance.
Will we share Christ?
Will we consistently proclaim the gospel?
People cannot be saved without hearing the gospel.
They hear it when we share it.
That’s what Romans 10:14 is all about.
Romans 10:14
Romans 10:14 NKJV
14 How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?
We want to do all things for the sake of the gospel.
To that end we must live out two truths.
#1. We must live with gospel priority.
To live with gospel priority we must voluntarily limit our freedom and we must consistently proclaim the gospel.
Truth #2. To do all things for the sake of the gospel we must…

2. Live With Gospel Power vv. 19-23

This truth builds on what we have already looked at.
We must live with the gospel as our priority.
As we do that, changes in our lives begin to happen.
We begin to alter the things we do, the places we go, the people we know because we want to promote the gospel.
The gospel gives us the power, the ability, to do everything for the sake of the gospel.
This is all about taking action.
This puts feet to our priorities.
We saw we are to be all about the gospel.
This is how we demonstrate that.
Living with gospel power requires two heart attitudes.
Heart attitude #1…

a. Desire the salvation of the lost vv. 19-21

look at v. 19.
1 Corinthians 9:19 NKJV
19 For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win the more;
Here we have Paul’s heart revealed to us.
First, he states the truth in relation to our Christian liberty.
We are free from all men.
Our consciences are not bound by what others choose to do!
When it comes to areas of personal freedom, we are free to choose what we want.
However, when the gospel is our priority, we may choose to limit that freedom.
Why?
To win people to Christ!
Proverbs 11:30
Proverbs 11:30 NKJV
30 The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, And he who wins souls is wise.
The goal is to win people to Christ.
To achieve that goal we have a specific attitude.
We are free, but we will serve anyone to see them saved!
This word servant is a strong word.
Servant – δουλόω (douloō) enslave; bind. to enslave v. — to make a slave of; bring into servitude. Finite verb, aorist, active, indicative, first person, singular.
Servant – δουλόω (douloō)
Paul will make himself a slave if that’s what it takes to win people to Christ!
Are we willing to go that far?
Practically speaking, what does it look like to have this attitude?
1 Corinthians 9:20 NKJV
20 and to the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might win Jews; to those who are under the law, as under the law, that I might win those who are under the law;
When Paul was with the Jews, he observed the things the Jews observed.
Doing so may include things that were not even specifically in the law.
He kept Jewish customs when with them.
He followed the Jewish law and local laws.
This could be with Jews and with proselytes.
In Ch. 8 Paul made it clear that we can eat whatever we want.
However, when with people who don’t eat certain things, he didn’t do it.
Here’s a modern example.
If you are going out to eat with a vegan, maybe don’t order the steak.
If you want to reach a people group different then your own, observe their customs.
If you want to reach a generation different from yours, participate in the things they find important.
Historically in our country and especially in the church, there has been far too much generational conflict.
This is where a lot of conflict in churches comes from.
Music, chairs vs. pews, paint colors, etc.
Both generations need to give.
If our goal is the salvation of the lost, we let go of our freedoms.
If our goal is the unity of the body of Christ, we let go of our freedoms to pursue it.
Don’t let little things hinder the gospel!
However, know your limits as well.
Look at v. 21.
1 Corinthians 9:21 NKJV
21 to those who are without law, as without law (not being without law toward God, but under law toward Christ), that I might win those who are without law;
When with Gentiles and those who don’t follow the law, Paul didn’t adhere to the dietary restrictions etc that he did when with the Jews.
In Romans 6:14 Paul makes the point that we are free from the law.
Grace doesn’t mean that we have no rules.
It means that we are called to a higher standard of living where it is about the condition of our heart, not the actions of our hands.
Paul’s point is not that he behaved immorally to reach the immoral.
Nor did he violate his conscience.
His point is that when he was with people who did things different than how he was raised as a Jew, he joined them.
He ate with Gentiles.
Go with me to Galatians 2:11-16.
Galatians 2:11-16
Galatians 2:11–16 NKJV
11 Now when Peter had come to Antioch, I withstood him to his face, because he was to be blamed; 12 for before certain men came from James, he would eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing those who were of the circumcision. 13 And the rest of the Jews also played the hypocrite with him, so that even Barnabas was carried away with their hypocrisy. 14 But when I saw that they were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel, I said to Peter before them all, “If you, being a Jew, live in the manner of Gentiles and not as the Jews, why do you compel Gentiles to live as Jews? 15 We who are Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles, 16 knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified.
Fear is what often keeps us from effective witnessing.
Fear is a selfish motivation.
Paul says here that when we turn away from reaching unsaved people because we are worried how Christians will react, we are abusing the gospel.
We send a message through that behavior that salvation is about what we do instead of what we believe.
Our works do not justify us, faith in Christ does.
That truth needs to be evident in our lives as we share the gospel with others.
This may mean that we go places and spend time with people that other Christians may misunderstand.
That’s okay.
Paul never lost sight of the goal and neither should we.
The goal is to see people saved.
Don’t violate your conscience.
Don’t engage in sinful activity.
But other than that, do what is necessary to reach the lost.
We cannot reach the lost if we don’t want to.
That may sound a little funny, but let me explain.
If we always stay in our comfort zone, and we never reach out, we will never reach lost people.
Winning people to Christ requires intentionality.
It requires that we be where lost people are.
It is always good to invite lost people to church, but that is not the end of our responsibility.
Take them out to lunch, invite them to your house, get to know them.
Build relationships with unsaved people.
Be the best neighbor, best customer, best committee member you can be.
Then, when they ask you why you are different, and they should ask, you can talk to them about Jesus.
Evangelism is a personal responsibility.
What are you doing to reach unsaved people?
Nothing? - not living in obedience to Christ.
Pastor’s job - don’t understand the purpose of the church.
This is what it means to have a heart attitude that desires the salvation of the lost.
When we have that, we live with gospel power.
The gospel almost oozes out of us.
That’s heart attitude #1. To live with gospel power, desire the salvation of the lost.
Heart attitude #2. To live with gospel power…

b. Understand your common need vv. 22-23

Our common need is salvation.
Paul understood that and it was part of his motivation.
Look at v. 22.