Just added to our section on 1 Corinthians; a new message preached by Dr J Stewart Gillespie:
Outline notes from the above message:
Paul has been dealing with the Problems at Corinth:
- Moral Problems (chp 5)
- Material Problems (chp 6)
- Marital Problems (chp 7)
- Meat offered to Idols Problems (chp 8 to 10)
- Meeting Problems (chp 11 to 14)
- Miracle of Resurrection Problems (chp 15)
- Money Problems (chp 16)
But here in chapter 9 it seems as though:
The problems at Corinth are dealing with the apostle Paul!
There is something discordant / incongruent / disconsonant about this.
This chapter delivers a very personal attack on the Apostle Paul
This may make 1 Corinthians 9 seem a little less relevant to us
Is it not about personal problems between Paul and the Corinthians?
Nothing much to do with me then?
From it emerges a number of very important issues
A strange section in which Paul defends his rights to do what he doesn’t do!
Most of us have enough on our plates defending what we do!
Paul spends his time defending his right to do what he chooses not to do!
Just because I could do it, doesn’t mean I should do it!
Liberty doesn’t necessarily mean license.
Why spend time defending what I could do but don’t do?
Paul is a spiritual man seen through the lenses of unspiritual men; and they can’t make sense of him!
The unspiritual are trying to view the spiritual with no success!
Paul is a spiritual man being viewed through the eyes of a carnal man
To do what he does a carnal man would have to have a hidden agenda
Carnal believers will live their lives for:
- Profit (1 Corinthians 6)
- Pleasure (1 Corinthians 5, 6, 8,10)
- Promotion of Self (1 Corinthians 3)
So long as ‘love’ (1 Co13) is absent from their understanding and experience they are condemned to attempt to understand the apostle Paul in terms of the flesh and of self.
Lemington: “Here lies a miser who lived for himself and cared for nothing but gathering wealth; now where he is or how he fares nobody knows and nobody cares.”
St Pauls Cathedral: “Sacred to the memory of General Charles George Gordon, who at all times and everywhere gave his strength to the weak, his substance to the poor, his sympathy to the suffering and his heart to God.
So what is Paul really after?
He must be out to exploit them / to gain something from them
Paul takes time to point out, that what he could legitimately claim from them:
- material support (9:4)
- financial support (9:6)
He did not do it!
He had opportunity to exploit them but refused to do so
“nevertheless we have not used this power” (9:12)
“But I have used none of these things” (9:15)
From verses 8 to 14 the apostle establishes his right to be supported:
- Law of Moses (v9)
- Law of nature (v10)
- Law of Sowing and Reaping (v11)
- Law of the temple and altar (v13)
- Law of the Lord (v14)
Having established pretty thoroughly his right to use their support and expect their support, Paul doesn’t use their support!!
Why bother establishing his right to a support that he does not take?
Paul takes time to establish his right to financial support, to taking a wife and to material support in order to show what he was prepared to sacrifice in order to bring the gospel to the Corinthians.
This section is one of motives.
Paul first establishes what did not motivate him in the bringing of the gospel to Corinth, before he then explains what did drive him to bring the gospel to Corinth.
This section is in essence an answer to the question:
“what is my reward then?” (9:18)
Were the Corinthians inferring a hidden agenda (9:18)?
Does Paul establish his right to expect something from them in order to show his sincerity in taking nothing from them?
This seems to have been the question asked by his critics; what is in it for Paul?
To many at Corinth, Pauls motives must have been inscrutable:
“But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” (1Co 2:14)
This seems to have been the problem at Corinth, that the carnal mindset (cf. 1Co3:1-3) could not understand the spiritual agenda of the apostle Paul.
They thought that he thought the way they thought!
There ought to be something in the life of the believer that is totally incomprehensible to the unbelieving mind set!
Paul never sought to exploit his position, nor gain from his place, even when he could legitimately have done so.
Paul lives according to a value system they find incomprehensible.
9:1-15 is thus:
- Paul Examined
- Paul as an Example of the self sacrificial ministry he has just been exhorting in his approach to dealing with problems in chapter 6, 7, 8 – bearing others wrongs rather than demanding our rights.
Discouragement and Determination (9:7)
The secrets of Pauls motivation
Three pictures of Christian Work which perhaps give us insight into the stamina of Paul in the face of much profound and personal discouragement:
- Fight: ‘who goeth a warfare any time…’
we thought of:
- Field: ‘who planteth a vineyard…’
- Flock: ‘who feedeth a flock…’
- His Mission (9:16-23)
Why did Paul preach?
Maybe the answer seems to obvious to even bother asking the question?
That he might see men saved?
Paul certainly did want to see men saved and yet behind that there lay a more visceral motive still!
Here is the true motive which lay behind Pauls desire to preach the gospel.
He had to!
“necessity is laid upon me; yea woe is unto me if I preach not the gospel” (9:16)
- not because of a PLAN
- not because of a PATTERN
- but because of a PASSION
- Like Noah built – knowing for sure that the rain was coming, that Gods verdict had been passed, that global destruction was imminent and this was mans only hope!
- As Moses led through the Red Sea with Pharoahs armies pressing down upon him
- With the intensity of Daniels prayers – not out of liturgy nor routine – but with the reality of being surrounded by the instruments of Satanic attack
- With the passion of Samsons push, as he pushed upon those pillars as though it were the very last thing that ever he did, and it was, the very last thing that ever he did!
- With the same desperation that Peter grasped the hand of the Lord as he felt the waters give way from beneath his feet and he sunk down!
Paul preached not out of some mechanically executed long term plan but out of a deep burning passion and necessity to preach.
“woe is me if I preach not the gospel”
Here is the psychology of Christian service
By which I mean; “woe is unto me if I preach not the gospel” (v16)
At the heart of Paul lies an insatiable passion to preach, an instinct to evangelise, an appetite to advance in the Gospel.
Paul does not preach first and foremost to:
- Fulfil a Plan
But rather to
- Satisfy a passion
There is something implanted within the believer that even when we are not entirely convinced about the feasibility or the productivity of the mission, nonetheless we have to tell others about Christ.
Evangelism wasn’t so much a:
- Personal Plan
but rather a:
- Personal Passion
Even when he is kicked in the teeth, he presses on (2 Co 11:23ff).
Even when everything seems to be adverse to him, he presses on.
This is no cold, calculating method
This is not evangelism by STRATEGY
This is evangelism by SPIRIT
This evangelism does not arise from a CONFERENCE on church growth but from a burning unquenchable CONVICTION.
Thus the grief if he does not preach; “woe is unto me if I preach not the gospel” (9:16)
A Christian not only sees men and women who have no desire to know God by His Son Jesus Christ as a great grief and sorrow but the Christian is a person who perhaps even more keenly harbours the horror that there just maybe those who would have desired to know God by His Son, had I told them about Him and yet by my failure they had no opportunity to hear!
“woe is unto me if I preach not the gospel”
This is the kind of mindset of the apostle Paul; “Wherefore I take you to record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men. For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God.” (Act 20:26-27)
To preach not according to a system but according to the Spirit of God
Paul may not have seen ‘all men’ saved, and yet he takes solace from this that he has not failed to declare the counsel of God to them.
The task given to him to do has been successfully completed.
This is a great relief, a great joy, a great satisfaction in discharging the responsibility which God has given to us; cf. “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:” (2Ti 4:7)
One of the frequent questions we get asked; ‘how do I know if I am truly saved?’
Consider 1 John:
Our relationship to the light
1 John 1:5-10; 2:3; 3:6-8
As born again believers:
- we hate sin
- we desire the light
- we feed the burden of sin and disobedience
- we desire fellowship with the light
- we love the truth
- We love the Lord
- We love the Lords people
- 1 John 2:9-11; 3:14; 4:7
Our relationship with God through life in the Spirit
1 John 5:10-12
‘dispensation of the gospel’ (v17)
Dispensation: oikonomia: 3622: to be a manager of a household
“the administration or dispensation of the fullness of times” (Eph 1:10), the object of oikonomia, dispensation is the relative phrase “which He hath purposed.” It is the Divine purpose which is said to be administered.”
Irrespective of what may be thrown at us we are administrators of the Divine purpose:
“that I may make the gospel of Christ without charge”
cf. Joseph in Gen 42:25 – Jospeh would profit corn to his brothers and give them back their money too.
Here is Grace.
A dispensation of Grace
v18 – Pauls reard is that he is able to preach the gospel freely and without charge.
- His Mindset (9:24-27)
Paul is an ‘administrator’ (1 Co9:17) of the gospel.
It is his delight like:
- Joseph – the administrator of Pharoah
- Eliezer – the administrator of Abraham
- Naaman the Leper – the captain of the guard of the king of Assyria
To take of the glories of his master and display these glories
If God is the master and if Gods riches are His grace, then the more of Gods grace that is seen, the more of Hs Glory that is displayed
Thus when Paul preaches the gospel without charge (v18) he delivers Gods Grace by Gracious means.
Paul is empowered by Gods Grace to present free salvation freely
Paul has the dispensation of the gospel committed unto me (9:17)
“Ephesians 1:10 the object of ‘oikonomia’, dispensation is the relative phrase, ‘which He hath purposed’ (Eph 1:9). It is the Divine purpose which is said to be administered.”
Paul is an administrator then of the Divine purpose
He is the administrative means of extending Gods Grace to a lost world (Eph 1:6,7ff)
What would be better than bringing administering that grace by gracious means, than piping that fresh spring water of Divine grace through clean pipes?