As Christians, we are called to be willing to sacrifice for the sake of the Gospel. One way Paul describes the Christian’s sacrifice is a willingness to give up our rights for the sake of winning people to Christ. In 1 Cor. 9.1-27 Paul teaches that it is good and right for minister’s of the Gospel to be financially supported by the people they minister to. Paul normally took advantage of this right himself. However, when it came to his work with the Corinthians, Paul did not make use of this right. Paul likely did this so that he would not reinforce the prideful and materialistic priorities of the Corinthians. Paul is an example of someone who was willing to give up his rights in order to win people to Christ.
We focused on 9.17-27 where Paul highlights four aspects of sacrificing our rights for the Gospel that we are called to exhibit as Christians.
- A Willingness To Sacrifice. In v. 17 Paul speaks of the fact that he is completely willing to give up his rights for the sake of the Gospel. We have to ask ourselves if we are really willing to sacrifice. We tend to think our personal preferences are Gospel priorities, and we need to be willing to sacrifice capitalizing on these preferences if they hinder the Gospel message.
- The Wisdom Of Sacrifice. In vv. 18-22 Paul says that he is willing to become all things to all people to win some to Christ. It takes wisdom to evaluate which of our personal rights could be a hindrance to our Gospel ministry. Paul exercised wisdom as he adopted certain Jewish and Gentile practices depending on the context of his ministry. This does not mean that Paul sought to become cool or adopt immoral actions for the sake of the Gospel. Nor, does it mean that Paul compromised on the Gospel message by watering it down. Remember chapters 1-2 of 1 Corinthians where Paul unapologetically defends the offense of the cross in the Gospel message. Paul was, however, willing to flex as much as possible when it came to his personal preferences and rights.
- The Blessings Of Sacrifice. In v. 23 Paul speaks of the blessings of sharing in the Gospel. Paul does not begrudge his sacrifices; he rejoices in them. Paul has an eternal perspective which remembers the eternal blessings of sacrificing for the sake of the Gospel.
- The Discipline Of Sacrifice. In vv. 24-27 Paul compares the sacrificing of his rights to an athlete training for a competition. There are no shortcuts in Gospel ministry. We are called to train, persevere, and discipline ourselves as we share the Gospel. This also means that Paul did not just sacrifice for the sake of sacrificing. He sacrificed with a purpose: winning people to Christ.
If you need a copy of the sermon discussion questions, or the order of service from Sunday, here are the notes: 1 Cor. 9.1-27 Notes.
-Pastor Nathan Hogan
In 1 Corinthians 8.1-13 Paul begins to help the Corinthian church think through the issue of meat offered to idols. Clearly, this is not an issue that most of wrestle with today. However, Paul has a lot to teach us about similar issues related to our consciences as Christians. Within the Body of Christ it is possible, and even common, for Christians to have consciences that are informed differently regarding numerous issues that are not necessarily sinful in themselves. Issues about food or drink we consume, types of media we, social events we attend, and even politics can all fall into this category. In order to navigate these waters with love, Paul wants us to think not only think about what we can do, but what we should do out of love for our brothers and sisters in Christ.
- Remember not to over-spiritualize. In v. 8 Paul reminds us what we eat or don’t eat do not commend us to God. Giving up certain freedoms at times for the sake of others is not the end of the world! Similarly, we should not judge others who take part in biblically permissible things as these things do not make us right with God or holier in our walk.
- Remember the possible damage we can do. In vv. 9-11a Paul wants us to know that while he wants consciences to be more informed, he does not think that the way to do this is to encourage people to ignore their consciences. We can severely damage someone’s walk with the Lord if we somehow encourage them to ignore their conscience.
- Remember the common identity we share. In v. 11b Paul reminds us that we are family and that the Lord died for our fellow-Christians with differing consciences. If we make decisions without any regard for our fellow-believers, we live as if we are the only ones for whom Jesus died!
- Remember against whom we sin. In vv. 12-13 Paul reminds us that if we encourage a Christian to ignore their conscience we sin against them and against Jesus. It is sinful to intentionally damage the walks of our brothers and sisters in the Lord.
May we use these principles to live together in a loving and gracious way for God’s glory! Here are the discussion questions and order of service from Sunday: 1 Cor. 8.1-13 Notes.
-Pastor Nathan Hogan
As Christians, God calls us to different occupations and positions in this world. Some of us are called to occupational ministry, some of us are called to other jobs of various sorts, some of us are called to marriage and family life, some of us are not. These choices and situations in life can seem daunting and confusing, but in 1 Cor. 7.17-40 Paul calls all of us to lead the lives that God has assigned to us. As we seek to do this to the glory of God, there are always some biblical priorities we should keep in mind as we navigate these difficult choices and situations. The 3 priorities we are called to have are:
- The Priority of Obedience (vv. 18-20). The Corinthians have written to Paul and were very concerned about whether or not they should be circumcised or uncircumcised. Paul replied that they should stay in whatever state they were in when they came to Christ, and they should focus on what matters: obedience to God’s will. We too can get caught up in the complex issues of life while forgetting the basics of obedience to God’s will.
- The Priority of Identity (21-24). Many in the church in Corinth were slaves. Paul tells them they should gain their freedom if they can, but even if they can’t their true identity does not lie in their demeaning occupation. They are free in Christ. We are tempted to find our identity in our stations in life, but Paul calls us to remember who we are in Christ first and foremost.
- The Priority of Wisdom (25-40). Paul revisits his advice to those pondering marriage. He counsels them to take into account their current distress which may make marriage difficult. He also encouraged them to take into account their own convictions and their responsibilities to others. When we make decisions about marriage or any of our other callings in life, we too should take into account our present situation and circumstances, and our personal convictions and responsibilities to others. In short, we are called to exercise thoughtful wisdom.
I pray that Paul’s words to the church in 1 Cor. 7.17-40 will help us all to live for God’s glory as we pursue the lives He has assigned to us.
Here are the discussion questions and order of service from Sunday: 1 Cor. 7.17-40 Notes.
-Pastor Nathan Hogan