1 Corinthians 9.1-27 January 29, 2018

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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

1 Corinthians 8.1-13 Follow Up January 22, 2018

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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!
  4. 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

1 Corinthians 7.17-40 Follow Up January 15, 2018

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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

1 Samuel 17 Follow Up December 27, 2017

In 1 Samuel 17, we find the well-known narrative of David and Goliath. And although the main human characters in the narrative are David and Goliath themselves, the story is ultimately about a faithful God who prevails on behalf of those who belong to him. God—who is sovereign over all creation—uses the newly anointed shepherd-boy, David, to save and deliver his people from the oppression of the Philistines. In doing so, we learned three things about God’s deliverance and salvation of his people:

1. God’s people cannot save themselves

Verse 24 describes the army of Israel as “much afraid” of Goliath. Earlier in verse 11, even King Saul is described as “dismayed and greatly afraid.” From the Hebrew words used in both instances, we can understood that this “fear” carries the idea of standing in awe. It helps us understand why the Israelite army stood back: The men were so dismayed and so afraid, that they stood in fearful awe, helplessly frozen in terror. Israel had no comparable champion; Israel was paralyzed in fear; Israel could not save itself.

The same remains true of us today. However, in our case, sin is what paralyzes us; not with fear, but with death itself. Ephesians 2:1 describes us as “dead in trespasses and sins,” and this because the byproduct of sin is death, as revealed to us in Romans 6:23. Since dead people cannot resuscitate themselves, they need someone else to give them life; they need someone else to save them. This point is coming up next. For now, it is important to remember: We cannot save ourselves, not when our great enemies—sin and death—have us strangled in their Goliath-like grips.

Therefore, since we cannot save ourselves, what we must do instead is rest in God’s work of deliverance on our behalf. It is a rest that begins with trust in him as our object of faith. As Augustine has said, “You have made us for yourself, and the heart of man is restless until it finds its rest in thee.”

2. God provides a deliverer for his people

Verse 33 records Saul’s words to young David: “You are not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him, for you are but a youth.” By all external appearances, David was not supposed to win his battle with Goliath. He was but a young lad and he had no experience as a soldier, how could he possibly confront Goliath?

Yet—for his own honor and glory—this young boy was exactly who God chose to shockingly prevail against Goliath. So we realize: God often provides the unlikeliest of heroes to be his people’s deliverer. As we gaze at the beauty of God’s wisdom—as we see him elect David as his people’s unlikely deliverer—we are at the same time pointed forward to the ultimate Shepherd-King, Jesus Christ, who “lays down his life for [his] sheep” (John 10:11). We simply cannot read the narrative of David and Goliath without considering the unlikely Savior God has provided to us!

In an unthinkable act of compassion, God looked upon our broken, sin-struck, rebellious world, and he himself took on human flesh in order to one day die on a cross for us, eternally paying the wages of our own sin, that we—the guilty ones—might be declared forever innocent and just, and that we might enjoy him eternally as our friend.

When he took on flesh, however, he did not descend to a kingly palace. Instead, he was born in a barn in Bethlehem. He was placed not on a throne, but on a feeding trough reserved for livestock. And so the sovereign Lord over all creation humbled himself and came as a helpless infant among animals, crying in the arms of the human mother who delivered him in his incarnation. He was, at that very moment in human history, the epitome of an unlikely hero.

Nevertheless, this helpless, newborn infant was our Savior, and the angels rejoiced and sang at his arrival. So we’re encouraged—as people who can never rescue themselves—to rejoice in the unlikely Savior God has provided to us. Later in the story of David’s defeat of Goliath, when the men returned home from war, 1 Samuel 18:6-7 shows us the women of Israel dancing and singing “with songs of joy” over the news of God’s deliverance through David. We do the same today over the good news of our deliverance from sin and death through Christ. So as we rest in God’s work of deliverance on our behalf, we also rejoice in God’s provision of a delivering Savior, and we join the angels who joyfully sang at Christ’s birth.

3. God saves his people according to his promises

A question arises: “Why does God save, at all?” We might begin to find the answer to this question in one particular and glorious aspect of the character and nature of God: His faithfulness to his Word.

Many Old Testament passages promise and foretell of a future Messiah who would rescue God’s people:

  • Isaiah 9:2: “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light…”
  • Isaiah 40:5: “The glory of the Lord shall be revealed.”
  • Micah 5:2: “But you, O Bethlehem… from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler…”

They all point to one grand promise of a Messiah who would be born in Bethlehem to be the light of men. It’s the grand story-line of Scripture:

  • God created everything very good.
  • Our sin brought a curse to a good creation.
  • As a result, we live separated from a holy God in the darkness and brokenness of our own sin nature.
  • But God promised to rescue people who could not rescue themselves by taking on human flesh.

It’s a promise that goes right back to the garden of Eden, where we find humanity shamefully hidden from God in their own rebellious sin. In the midst of all that heartache, an incredibly beautiful promise is shared by God: A future son of the woman, Eve, will deliver a mortal wound to Satan’s head (Genesis 3:15). It’s a promise that looks ahead to the unlikely David delivering a mortal wound to Goliath’s head. But David is but a shadow of Christ, foreshadowing the true, eternal deliverance we receive in Christ crushing Satan’s head at the cross and the empty grave.

Jesus is the fulfillment of the promise. He is that heavenly Son born to an earthly woman; born to save us from sin, death, and Satan himself; born to be our Savior.

Indeed, God saves his people precisely because he has promised to save his people. He is faithful to his Word. We respond to such beautiful faithfulness with praise, and as we do, we join David himself in adoration of our faithful God: “I love you, O Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised” (Psalm 18:1-3).

A lifelong response to a faithfully saving God

May we always remember:

  1. We cannot save themselves.
  2. God has provided an unlikely hero to save us.
  3. God has faithfully done so according to his promises.

And as we remember these truths:

  1. We rest in God’s work of deliverance on our behalf.
  2. We rejoice in God’s provision.
  3. We praise God for his faithfulness to his Word.

My dear Lake Murray Community Church: Rest, rejoice, and praise the one who has promised and faithfully given us a Savior. It’s our lifelong response to a faithful God who saves.

With joy in Christ,

Pastor Marttell

1 Corinthians 6.1-11 Follow Up December 18, 2017

In 1 Corinthian 6.1-11 Paul addresses another surprising issue in Corinth: the church member are suing one another! In short, the Corinthians were dealing with their divisions using the world’s wisdom, not the wisdom of Christ. Even though we may not be suing each other, we too struggle with using the world’s wisdom about conflict when it comes to seeking reconciliation in the body of Christ.

Paul answers two possible objections to seeking peace and reconciliation with fellow believers, and then he provides 1 solution:

  1. 2 Objections Answered (verses 1-8)
    1. We are not competent! Paul reminds the Corinthians that they will one day judge the world with Christ. Even though conflict can be complex and difficult, we are capable, in the power and wisdom of the Holy Spirit, of handling conflict in the church.
    2. It isn’t fair! Paul tells the Corinthians it is better to be defrauded than go to court. Whenever we reconcile we have to give up something we want: a harsh or indifferent spirit, bitterness, revenge, anger, etc.
  2. 1 Solution (verses 9-11)
    1. How can we let go of what we want and be peacemakers with one another? By remembering who we used to be: sinners, and knowing who we are now: washed, sanctified, and justified in the blood of Jesus. Jesus embraced us though we were lost in our sin.

Here are some discussion questions and the order of service from this last Sunday: 1 Cor. 6.1-11 Insert.

 

-Pastor Nathan Hogan