Pauls Ministry - RR274G13a
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|This transcript is unedited. It was:|
|Archived by the Mt. Olive Tape Library|
|Digitized, transcribed, and published by Christ Rules|
|Posted by with permission.|
The hour cometh and now is the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. Where the Father seeketh such to worship Him. God is a spirit and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth. Let us pray.
Oh Lord our God we come again into Thy presence, rejoicing in Thy mercies and in Thy providential care. We thank Thee our Father that Thou art on the throne of all things. We therefore come humbly, joyfully, gratefully into Thy presence. We know that Thou art the Lord. We know that Thy purpose for us is all together righteous, holy and good. Give us grace therefore to accept all Thy ways with us and in everything to give thanks. In Christ’s name, Amen.
Our scripture lesson this morning is First Corinthians 9:15-27. Paul’s Ministry.
“But I have used none of these things: neither have I written these things, that it should be so done unto me: for it were better for me to die, than that any man should make my glorying void. For though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of: for necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel! For if I do this thing willingly, I have a reward: but if against my will, a dispensation of the gospel is committed unto me. What is my reward then? Verily that, when I preach the gospel, I may make the gospel of Christ without charge, that I abuse not my power in the gospel. For though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more. And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law; To them that are without law, as without law, (being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ,) that I might gain them that are without law. To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some. And this I do for the gospel's sake, that I might be partaker thereof with you. Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.”
This is not a popular text. [00:05:06]
Paul here is answering the criticism of his ministries...
Paul here is answering the criticism of his ministries as he does elsewhere in Corinthians, both the first and second letters. And people tend to go over these passages quickly or to ignore them or not to preach about them. Why is that wrong? Why is it important that we pay attention to such passages in Paul’s letters. Well first let us see what he has to say. Paul in his ministry work preached at his own expense, earning his own keep as a tent maker which meant mainly a worker in leather because tents were made of leather. Paul came from a wealthy family but the Jewish premise was if a man did not teach his son a trade he taught him to be a thief. Paul’s comments in verses fifteen through eighteen have been called somewhat obscure and with good reason. Other men might readily exercise their position to command financial support as God’s law clearly entitles them to. But Paul wants hi freedom to be able to speak more freely and more clearly. He glories in his independence from them because it enables him to speak and teach more freely. Paul claims no credit for forgoing pay. He could do nothing else doing his convictions; his call to the ministry requires this of him he makes clear. Paul thus does not tell us precisely why this is so nor is he under any obligation to explain it to us. His call is so powerful of one that he was compelled to be under no command from men only from the Lord. [00:08:04]
God’s judgment would overwhelm him if he did not preach...
God’s judgment would overwhelm him if he did not preach and he therefore wasted no time in getting directly to preaching and preaching without being dependent on anyone . He wanted no accountability to anyone other than Jesus Christ. And he is afraid that he will abuse his power in the gospel if he does not preach freely. Preaching for Paul is obligatory; it is God’s mandate from heaven. Preaching for Paul is both his calling and his life, a privilege and a necessity. In his view to require pay for his preaching would be an abuse of his power although it was a legitimate requirement that he be supported. Paul has thereby made himself free from all men and more freely Christ servant. It was Paul’s ministry to bring into very sharp focus the conflict between Christianity and Judaism. Between a Christian view of God’s law and the Pharisaic view of the law on the other hand. He was thus in particular a target of hatred and still is. Other apostles also faced and suffered martyrdom. But the animosity against Paul was particularly intense. And this is still the case. Paul no more set aside the law then did Moses and Jesus. Against the Jews he stressed his obedience to the law that he might make them understand much better that is the way of sanctification not justification. Because they were under the law he came to the Jews as one faithful to the law that I might gain the more, he says in verse twenty. To the gentiles not knowing they were under God’s law but now by their conversion under the law to Christ, Paul came with the good news of salvation through Christ’s atonement. [00:11:11]
Released from God’s penalty of death and sanctification...
Released from God’s penalty of death and sanctification by the law. Paul realistically approached Jews and gentiles in terms of their backgrounds, of understanding, and also their ignorance. Their ignorance and lack of understanding of sin and grace. He desires to save all and this desire governed him. He does this for the gospel’s sake in order to share the privileges of grace with them. In the Grecian athletic races only one man won the prize, although there could be a number of people in the race. Paul urges his readers to run as men striving for a single prize. He wants none to meander as though because salvation is all of grace and therefore supposedly no works are required, that such an attitude is possible. But for Paul it is a lack of grace. In a race men train and prepare to win a prize, a corruptible crown. But we win an incorruptible. Paul runs like a racer, that is, he trains and disciplines himself. His faith is no easy [unintelligible] but the urgency of a man whose life is racing and who disciplines his being in terms of this. The reference in verse twenty six ‘so fight I not as one who beateth the air’ is to a boxer training. To shadow boxing. Paul insists that ours is never shadow boxing, it is a serious struggle. If we fail or if Paul should fail it means becoming a castaway, laid on the shelf, as no longer useful. The word translated into English from the Greek as castaway refers essentially to a broken cup or a cracked cup that is a beautiful thing you don’t want to throw it into the trash heap so you keep it on the shelf to put little odds and ends in. That’s what it means to be a cast away. [00:14:46]
When Paul says I keep under my body he means I do not...
When Paul says I keep under my body he means I do not allow it to take control. This is no aesthetic view but simply a realistic recognition that an athlete in training will face the temptation to be lazy. To break training with self-indulgence. Paul believes in the perseverance of the saints but he also believes in human responsibility. A man who holds that because he is saved in Christ he can be self-indulgent and face neither judgment nor hell knows nothing about the faith. Those who are the chosen of God must manifest consistency of faith and life. And their zeal is a constantly renewed one. Paul always sees Jesus Christ as the one in whom the divine and the human purposes came together. In Him all things come into focus. And Paul’s concern is that all whom profess Christ display a like focus in their lives. Salvation has to do with much more than going to heaven. It requires the priority of God in His kingdom and in our lives. It means that we now live for Christ and His reign rather than for ourselves. A telling book title of the 1920’s spoke of God without thunder which is the kind of God most men want, that is a God without judgment. Such a god does not exist. Precisely because the living God is the God of judgment, there is salvation and a separation from sin and death to life and righteousness or justice. Paul summons us to faithfulness to the living God as against the false gods of our own imagination. Now to get back to the point I raised at the beginning. [00:17:42]
Why should such what someone has called ...
Why should such what someone has called ‘purely personal stuff’ be a part of the Bible? Well the reason is a very important one. We are persons not abstractions. We are not be reduced to reason nor to an idea. We are persons made by God, the supreme Person. And therefore it is important in the eyes of God that the very personal reactions of a Jeremiah or of a Paul or anyone of the saints be recorded. We are told that Jesus wept, that it grieved Him to see the people in their waywardness because He was a person. It’s a false spirituality that pushes some people to try and be above personhood. This is why passages like this are throughout the Bible. God speaks to us as the supreme Person through persons to our personal nature and needs. Let us pray.
Our Father we give thanks unto Thee for this Thy word. We thank Thee that Thou dost speak to us as persons. That we are not abstractions, we are not only souls, but that as persons we grieve, we rejoice, we suffer. And Thou art mindful of these things. Teach us as we pray to come to Thee as persons in Christ. To make all our needs, our wants, our hopes, our wishes known. Knowing that Thou hast made us and will be mindful of us. In Christ’s name, Amen. [00:21:06]
Are there any questions now about our lesson?...
Are there any questions now about our lesson?
One of the reasons why passages like this are so important is too often as a result of the Greco-Roman world and its ideas people in the church have tried to rise above being human. This was one of the reasons for the aesthetic movement. As though they would be more spiritual by abandoning the world and abandoning marriage and abandoning all the things that mark humanity. And this is wrong. God made us as persons. He redeems us to live a life in Him as persons.
If there are no questions let us conclude with prayer.
Our Father how good it is to praise Thee. To know that Thou art mindful of us. That the very hairs of our heads are all numbered. We thank Thee for thy grace, Thy mercy and Thy providential care. Teach us to rejoice in Thee and in Thy works. To rejoice in the gifts Thou hast given us, what Thou hast made us to be and in all things to be more than conquerors in Christ. And now go in peace, God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Ghost, bless you and keep you, guide and protect you, this day and always, Amen.