Gospel-Centered Freedom

Dustin Folden September 10, 2017 1 Corinthians 9:19-27
Outline

I. Use Your Freedom to Win Others (v.19-23)

1 Corinthians 9:19-23 - For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a slave to all, so that I may win more. To the Jews I became as a Jew, so that I might win Jews; to those who are under the Law, as under the Law though not being myself under the Law, so that I might win those who are under the Law; to those who are without law, as without law, though not being without the law of God but under the law of Christ, so that I might win those who are without law. To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak; I have become all things to all men, so that I may by all means save some. I do all things for the sake of the gospel, so that I may become a fellow partaker of it.

A. In Christ you are free

B. The purpose of your freedom

C. How to live out your freedom

1 Corinthians 9:22-23 - To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak; I have become all things to all men, so that I may by all means save some. I do all things for the sake of the gospel, so that I may become a fellow partaker of it.

II. Keep Your Eyes on the Prize (v.24-25)

1 Corinthians 9:24-25 - Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable.

A. The nature of the prize

B. The prize keeps you on mission

III. Live a Disciplined Life (v. 26-27)

1 Corinthians 9:26-27 - Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air; but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified.

A. Run and fight with purpose

B. The danger of disqualification

As we continue our annual theme of In Christ alone, I want to consider how we think about and use our Freedom.

We love freedom don’t we? We love the freedom we have in this country. We love the freedom a vacation brings, and we love that freedom lets us do so many things.

I recently went on the adventure of teaching my kids how to ride a bike with no training wheels. Do you remember teaching your kids to ride…or when you learned?

  • To a kid…a bike means Freedom…now you could roam the neighborhood, doing good to other neighbors, befriending other children, and thwarting any injustice that came across your enlarged territory…or you could just get further from home to get into more trouble…how do kids usually use their freedom?
  • In any case we took the plunge to learn.
    • So after a few bolts were removed…we practiced…which means I ran behind my daughter up and down the sidewalk in front of our house holding the back of her seat as she as she tilted from side to side, each time, I would guide her back so she wouldn’t fall….it was terrible…I was sweating, she was not learning any balance because I wouldn’t let her fall…
    • We tried learning on the sidewalk right in front of our house, and that didn’t work.
      • So we took them to a big parking lot.
      • We also watched a YouTube video of this mom in England who had taken the pedals off her kids bike, and had the child glide, and push with their feet, and then pull their feet up and balance as they got their own momentum, and as they began to fall, they could put a foot down and get more momentum and learn balance.
    • I am telling you, the British are geniuses…We took our oldest over to the Wyandotte school parking lot, and after two sessions of gliding all by herself, we put the pedals back on and my daughter was riding instantly…
    • After another session that same day, my youngest Sawyer learned as well.
    • Then they loved just riding around the parking lot…they had all the freedom to bike anywhere they wanted…I didn’t realize how bad this was until later.
  • We all knew how to ride bike now, why don’t we go for a family bike ride around the neighborhood.
    • Not my brightest moment…one child had just learned about 3 hours earlier, and now I wanted them to be able to ride exactly where they needed to ride to be safe, when they were used to riding wherever they wanted to ride without any concern with navigating parked cards, curbs, or stopping on command to avoid moving cars.
  • It was not the greatest Folden family experience…but it taught me a valuable lesson.
    • We often want freedom to do whatever we want, but being able to constrain our freedom to go toward a goal is really important.
      • We can’t just ride down the street wherever we want…that is not best.
    • We went back to the parking lot, and I setup cones, and I directed the kids to drive around the lot, but then to practice driving through this corridor, initially cones where being run over each pass, but slowly they learned to direct the bike where they needed to go and have control, rather than just driving wherever they felt like….
  • Not only were we ready to navigate the neighborhood…but a family bike ride to dairy queen was the prize, and even though it was tough being constrained by the sidewalk, it was worth it.
    • In Christ You are Free
      • Paul says, 19For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a slave to all, so that I may win more
      • When Paul says he is free from all men, he is saying that there is no human being that has a level of authority over him that can tell him what to do and what not to do.
        • Paul is an independent tent maker…no one tells him how many tents he needs to make, or where he needs to go and sell…and also no one tells him if he can or can’t talk about Jesus, or if he can or can’t go to this town to evangelize or not.
      • In that culture, it was very common to have a benefactor or a patron who supported you, paid for your schooling, travel, apprenticeship etc…and then could basically guide you and utilize your new skills to benefit them in whatever way they thought was best.
        • It is sort of like a military scholarship paying for your school, but then you need to enlist for 8 years.
      • Paul is saying, I am free from all men. Now he is not talking about the freedom from the Law, like he talks about in Galatians 5:1 – it was for freedom that Christ set us free.
        • But His freedom comes from His relationship with Christ
        • The reality is that in Christ, there is freedom
        • Freedom from the penalty of the sin
        • Freedom from having to obey the law to try to earn heaven
        • And in this case…Freedom from trusting human beings to meet ones needs and be our benefactors, since we have a greater benefactor who provided us the ultimate freedom.
      • As Paul made tents, he had to trust that the Lord would supply his needs to live and travel as he proclaimed the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
        • But he was free, from having to trust a wealthy patron to sign off and allow him to go about His mission.
    • The Purpose of Your Freedom
      • Paul says, “I have made myself a slave to all, so that I may win more.”
        • The purpose of freedom is to win others…and that by definition will place constraints on you.
      • Any goal places constraints on you…just like there is a difference between riding around a parking lot with no destination, verses going to Dairy Queen for ice cream…we are constrained to have to go this direction to get ice cream.
        • Riding in circles will not churn the ice cream here…we gotta go on that sidewalk, and in that direction.
      • Paul says, he places constraints on Himself.
        • To the Jews, I became a Jew, so that I might win Jews.
          • Paul is ethnically a Jewish man, but in Christ there is not a wall between Gentiles and Jews, so in Christ there is neither Jew nor Greek…but Paul says, in order to reach out and evangelize my countrymen, I will become like them.
          • That is not to say he becomes like them by changing his beliefs on the free gift of salvation in Christ, but he would appropriate Jewish customs as not to offend to make sure there was a platform to communicate the gospel clearly and winsomely.
          • So he might wash his hands according to tradition, or not eat certain foods, or observe festivals…not because he believes that helps him get into heaven, but in order to share the truth of eternal life in Christ.
        • So whether those are under the law or not under the Law…basically Jews or Gentiles…he wants to minister to them accordingly and wisely for the sake of the Gospel.
          • Notice though, that he not only constrains himself by their traditions willingly…he is constrained by something greater.
        • Paul says in v21, “Though not being without the law of God, but under the Law of Christ, so that I might win those who are without law.”
          • Paul is not approaching evangelism with simply a pragmatic approach…whatever works is ok…
          • He is saying, that there is a law of Christ…so he may not observe Jewish practices with Gentiles, but that doesn’t mean he is functioning however he wants to. He is constrained by the purpose of Christ, the law of Christ, the commands of God (cf 7:19)…to love and serve others, return good for evil, to exercise self-control, and trust in the plan of a sovereign God that includes suffering for his servants, and most importantly to proclaim to people to repent for the kingdom of God is at hand.
            • Cf 7:19, 8:8
          • Paul is saying I am not under the law, but I am not lawless…It would be like talking with a coworker or friend, and swear, tell inappropriate jokes, abuse company benefits, speak bad about your boss, gossip about coworker or your spouse…in an effort to just be one of the group, to fit in and build relationships and trust.
    • How to live out your Freedom
      • Paul says in v22, 22 To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak; I have become all things to all men, so that I may by all means save some. 23 I do all things for the sake of the gospel, so that I may become a fellow partaker of it.”
        • When Paul says weak here, he is most likely referring to people in a weak social economic condition…someone without a powerful benefactor…someone in Corinthian society that would not necessarily be well respected.
          • Cf. 1 Cor 1:26
          • In fact that is who primarily made up the Corinthian church…
          • Paul is saying, I don’t just try to get really powerful people on my side to help me, I want to go to the needy because that is the very heart of the gospel, the very heart of our God…and the truth is, compared to the Lord, we are all weak, we are all needy.
            • We all need salvation.
          • That is why Paul says, “I have become all things to all men, so that I may by all means save some. 23 I do all things for the sake of the gospel, so that I may become a fellow partaker of it.”
        • Let me ask you…How are you living out your freedom?
          • It is good for all of us to take stock of our schedules, and as we are into a new school year, we are into the fall…the question is…do I do all things for the sake of the gospel?
            • How are you doing imitating Paul when he says, I have become all things to all men so that by all means I might save some.
              • You are free, but I would encourage you to Allow your heart to be constrained with the concern for the eternal destination of someone else. Allow it to impact your thoughts, your prayer life, and then what you say to that person.
                • What you might think is a burden will end up being your greatest blessing.
            • Who are you praying for right now, or who should you be praying for right now… ask God to open a door for you to share the gospel.
              • Who has the Lord placed in your life that is hurting but is not in community…ask the lord to give you a great opportunity to come to church with you…
            • A lady who is new to church approached me recently, and said, I didn’t realize how much I was missing without being in church…I am now being nourished.
              • That speaks to the importance of serving each other, and being a body, because the Gospel the good news of J.C has brought us together.
          • In addition to reaching out individually, how are you doing using your freedom serving to build up the body in love?
            • Cf. Gal 1:13 – use your freedom to serve each other
            • Ongoing church ministries (ongoing needs in these ministries)…
              • Nursery and Children’s Ministries
              • Ushers and Greeters
              • ABF or Small Group leadership
            • Seasonal ministries
              • Christmas Musical (choir rehearsals happening now)
              • Living Nativity (sign-ups soon)
              • Winter Break @ Faith (sign-ups soon)
              • Christmas for Everyone (sign-ups soon)
              • New Year’s Eve Spectacular
            • Laying foundations for future ministry
              • Taking part in Northend Core Team
              • Serving at the Hub
              • Joining a worksite clean-up team
              • Getting trained as a biblical counselor
    • The Nature of the Prize
      • First, athletic metaphors are common in lots of cultures…in the Corinthian culture, philosophers & Teachers would make parallels, and we do in our culture as well. Paul picks up on this rich imagery that would resonate with his readers.
      • This would be especially easy with the Corinthians as Corinth was the host of the Isthmian Games, which were second in popularity to the Olympic games.
        • (Sort of like Beta and VHS), or maybe HD-DVD and Blue ray…one continues to this day, but the other was quite popular.
        • We still have the Olympics to this day, but the isthmium games were a big deal.
      • Paul starts by explaining the point of running in a race is the prize at the end. Everyone is running the race because one of them will get a prize…there are a lot of good reasons to run, exercise, comradery, but people who compete at an Olympic level, do so to win.
        • This is not to say the Christian life is a competition and only one person gets to go to heaven…that is not Paul's point…he is saying everyone in the race is motivated by the prize.
        • Their prize is a perishable wreath…something they get to wear and be recognized and enjoy…but that wreath won’t last forever, and people will forget the accomplishment.
        • We have a prize that never fades away…being glorified because of our union with Christ…if runners will run for a prize that fades, how much more should we run for a prize that does not fade.
      • What Paul has in view is that The prize is the free Gift of God in Christ which is eternal life with God…that is unfading, will never be destroyed, and will be fully achieved when the Lord returns…that truth, the prize of being with the Lord forever is to motive us to run the race set before us.
    • The Prize Keeps you on Mission
      • Paul’s main point is to RUN – to live your life with purpose.
        • Run in such a way that you may win…in other words keep moving forward toward the goal…use your time, talents and treasure to make an impact for the progress of the Gospel.
      • Our view of how amazing the prize is of being with God forever is to motivate us to live in a way where we tell others about Him now.
        • That is running…evaluating our life through the grid of does this help move the ball forward…does this help the gospel be more widely known…1 person at a time or whole communities at a time…am I running forward.
      • Something employers often ask interviewees is “what gets you out of bed in the morning?”…they want to learn if a person is self-motivated, and what that motivation is.
        • Our motivation as believers is to be in absolute awe of the prize of eternal life that was won for us by the death, burial and resurrection of Christ…that is to gets us out of bed each morning, and governs that way we use our time to spread the good news of Christ individually and as a church body.
      • Now a passion for getting a gold metal is not all it takes…I am sure if you ask David Boudia about just wanting to win, he would say that is a big part of it, but you have to let that passion motivate you to get up early, get in a cold pool, lift weights, be self-controlled in your nutrition and everything else that goes with the training regimen.
    • Earlier we talked about the preferences of others being a restraint we are willing to take on to minister to people..
      • Now we are talking about the constraint we place on ourselves because it is beneficial to move forward.
      • I love Jesus, but I am not going to invest the time to know his word.
      • I love Jesus but I don’t want to know His commands and apply them in the context of the body of Christ.
      • I love Jesus, but I don’t really want to serve regularly or be faithful at church to build up the body in love.
      • I love Jesus, but I am not going to tell my friend that Jesus loves them and died on the cross for their sins, because they might not like that I brought up their sins.
        • We need to discipline our body…we need to live self-controlled lives to run this race and go toward the prize.
        • Here is a constraint you could place on yourself…because you want to be self-disciplined…
          • I am not going to watch TV, YouTube, or check Facebook until I have been in the word and prayed thanking God for salvation, and prayed asking him to help me live for Him based on what I read and have a boldness to share the gospel with those he has placed around me.
      • Possible Illustration:  fighter pilot testimony –landing on aircraft carrier at night. Wanted to quit… Passion for flying did not help…Only the discipline of training.
    • Run and Fight with Purpose
      • That goal motivates him to discipline his body and make it his slave…
      • This is not simply about exercise, and it definitely is not about self-harm…it is about being self-controlled…so you do things in your life with a purpose in mind.
      • why should you practice dribbling and shooting …so that you can have the confidence to take that last second shot and make it…painting that picture is really important…but you still need to go to practice and do all the drills over and over when you don’t feel like it, and when it is hard.
      • When my kids rode with training wheels their arms never hurt as they did not need to use their muscles to constantly stabilize the bike, the wheels did that…the more they practiced gliding before riding they talked about how now their arms hurt…and I said, good you are getting stronger, keep going!
    • The Danger of Disqualification
      • Paul says, “I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified.”
      • It is good to be motivated by both rewards and warnings.
        • Athletes push their bodies to practice and get stronger even and especially when their bodies say, nope, all done no more…they have to push it past the comfort level for there to be progress, to get faster or stringer etc.
          • In other words, they say, how my body feels is not going to govern if I keep going.
      • When I run, every time, that first mile is just a mental battle…my whole body just wants to quite, it seem like everything hurts…if I can just get past the first mile, my body usually says, ok fine we are going for a run.
        • What motivates me is I signed up to do a half marathon in October, and I already paid the money, so I need to train so I don’t die and waste my money.
        • If I don’t train, I really can’t run the race and it is just a waste.
      • Paul is saying he doesn’t want to waste the opportunities he has because he is not disciplined.
        • Athletes at these in the early Olympian games would need to go to 10 months of strict training, and they would be disqualified if they didn’t do so.
        • Paul is saying he wants to be a fellow partaker in the gospel, and he does not want to be disqualified…
          • He wants to be a part of what God is doing. He does not want to miss the blessing of being a part of men and woman trusting the Lord for eternal life.
          • I am not saying a person can lose their salvation, but that a genuine believer will continue to live for the gospel through trails and difficulties all the while seeking to live a disciplined life because they want to share what their hope is in with other people…
      • It is good for us to be encouraged by the prize and warned about the loss of blessings.
        • With my kids…I wanted them to be safe and not drive into traffic and die…if that was all I talked about they might never ride a bike…but if I didn’t warn them about that honestly, I would be doing them a disservice as that is a powerful motivator if used wisely.
        • Paul does the same thing…he paints a picture of how wonderful it is to live with the Goal of the Gospel being spread, but warns that living without a gospel centered purpose will not be worth it.
  • What better way to conclude our service than with the Lord’s table as a reminder of the Gospel, and the Prize of the return of Christ.
  • After I pray, we will sing O the Love of my redeemer and seek to prepare our hearts to celebrate the Lords table, and then remember what the Lord has done for us, and look forward to His return.

If that is true regarding our freedom with riding a bike it is also true when it comes to navigating the Christian life, and using our freedom in a disciplined way for the sake of the gospel.

With that in mind, please turn in your bibles to 1 Cor 9:19-27 - READ

With our time remaining let's consider

Gospel-Centered Freedom: Three ways to be MISSION-minded this fall

I hope that at the end of this message you will be in a good position to Use your freedom in Christ in a disciplined way for winning others to the gospel.

I.             Use Your Freedom to Win Others (v.19-23)

19 For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a slave to all, so that I may win more. 20 To the Jews I became as a Jew, so that I might win Jews; to those who are under the Law, as under the Law though not being myself under the Law, so that I might win those who are under the Law; 21 to those who are without law, as without law, though not being without the law of God but under the law of Christ, so that I might win those who are without law. 22 To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak; I have become all things to all men, so that I may by all means save some. 23 I do all things for the sake of the gospel, so that I may become a fellow partaker of it.

What is fascinating is how Paul uses his freedom, and how that instructs us what our freedom in Christ is to be used for…

So then if we are to submit ourselves to the law of Christ…how does that effect how we use our freedom?

Just like every mission there needs to be motivation. there is something even better than ice cream to motivate us. That is why if we are to have a gospel centered focus you must…

II.            Keep Your Eyes on the Prize (v.24-25)

24 Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. 25 Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable.

As we consider the motivation to have a gospel centered fall where we use our freedom for the sake of the gospel, lets first consider

That prize is precious, and it motivates us to keep focused on the mission.

In other words…in order to run, to stay on mission…to do all things for the sake of the gospel…a person needs to be not only be excited about the prize, but also self-controlled and disciplined to pursue the prize.

If you want to focus on the gospel this fall, you will have to…

III.          Live a Disciplined Life (v. 26-27)

26 Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air; 27 but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified.

Paul says to…

Paul says he doesn’t just run around in a circle, he runs toward the prize. He doesn’t box with the goal of hitting the air really hard, but the goal of boxing is to hit the opponent.

I am a big believer in explaining why you should do something…

     

Why should you learn to ride your bike…so we can all go on a family bike ride to get ice cream…but you still have to get on the bike and do the work to learn to ride.

The point is this…Passion for the Lord isn’t fruitful without discipline for the Lord.

To live Gospel centered lives we also need to be aware of dangers …particularly…

My Prayer is that we would be gospel centered this fall…that we would ….Use our freedom in Christ in a disciplined way for winning others to the gospel.

 

Dustin Folden

B.S - Electrical Engineering, Purdue University
M.Div. - Faith Bible Seminary

Pastor Dustin Folden and his wife Trisha joined the Pastoral Staff in 2010. They have two children, Mackenna & Sawyer. They enjoy playing board games, cooking together and going on hiking adventures. Pastor Folden shepherds the 9:30 worship service, oversees the Adult Bible Fellowship ministry, the Wednesday evening Faith Community Institute as well as serves in Faith Biblical Counseling Ministries.

Read Dustin Folden's Journey to Faith for the full account of how the Lord led Pastor Folden to Faith Church.