I Corinthians 9:15-19

Steve Viars February 22, 1992 1 Corinthians 9:15-19

- tonight we're going to be continuing our study of the book
  of I Corinthians
- we've seen that this book breaks down into large sections
  of scripture
- back in chapter seven, Paul began answering questions that
  the Corinthians had asked him in a letter they had
  previously sent him
- in chapter 7, he answered a number of questions about
  marriage, divorce, and remarriage

- now in chapters 8-10, Paul's been talking about the subject
  of Christian liberty
- Christian liberty has to do with areas that God in his
  sovereignty did not choose to address specifically in his
  Word
    - where I go and where I don't go
    - what I wear and don't wear
    - the kind of things I listen to
    - the things I eat and drink

    - the kind of decisions you and I have to make
      practically each day

- issues of Christian liberty

- now the issue of Christian liberty is a major Bible theme
- there is great freedom in Jesus Christ

1)- our Lord said - "Ye shall know the truth, and the truth
    shall set you free" (John 8:32)
     - we're freed from the power and penalty of sin through
       God and His Word

2) we're also free from the law - Paul said in Gal. 5:1 - "It
   was for freedom that Christ set us free."
     - we're free from the law
     - our relationship with the Lord and our stand before
       Him is not determined by a set of do's and don'ts

3) We're also freed from the blindness that plagues unsaved
    man.  II Cor. 3:17 - "Where the Spirit of the Lord is,
    there's liberty."

- so our liberty in Christ is an important theme in the Bible
    - freed from the power and penalty of sin
    - freed from the law
    - freed from the blindness that plagues unsaved man
    - freed to understand God and His Word

    - and as a result, there's freedom to make some daily
      decisions – that’s Christian liberty

    - let's just take an example
- why did you wear what you wore to church tonight?
- no one here could say - I'm wearing this blue tie because
  Hezekiah 4:13 says - wear the blue tie on the third Sunday
  night in February
- it doesn't work that way

- now the Bible definitely has some principles to guide us in
  the way we dress
   - but there's freedom to make daily choices within the
     parameters that the Bible establishes

   - (cf. driving a boat in a harbor - // buoys)

   - see, the Lord didn't save us to be robots
   - some of us wish He did - then we wouldn't have to
      think/study

- but God in His plan for our growth designed that some of
  the decisions we make each day are not directly addressed
  in the Bible -
     - there's some liberty (freedom) there
     - and the question is - Are we going to use even our
       freedom in Christ as an opportunity to please Him?

- as Peter said in I Peter 2:16 - "Act as free men, and do
    not use your freedom as a covering for evil, but use it
    as bond-slaves for God."


- the natural question that flows out of all that is - "What
  principles can guide me as I make decisions on Christian
  Liberty issues?

- that’s what Paul has been talking about in chapters 8-10
- if you were here on the Wednesday night of the Missionary
   Conference, we studied several of those principles from
   chapter 8

- tonight, Paul's going to give us some more important
  principles on this subject from chapter 9

- in order to get the full benefit and understanding of these
  verses, we need to do two more things
   - we need to answer the questions:
       1) how do verses 15-19 fir in with the rest of the
           chapter?
       2) what questions do we need to discuss from verses
          15-19 to fully understand the argument Paul is
          making?

- when you read the first 14 verses of this chapter, you're
   almost tempted to throw up your hands and say "I don't see
   how this chapter fits together at all"
    - because verses 4-14 talk about the way a church treats
      full-time Christian servants financially (we studied
      that a week and a half ago)
    - verses 1-3 talk about folks in the church questioning
       Paul's apostleship

- you're tempted to look at that and conclude - this has
  nothing at all to do with Christian liberty
    - why did Pastor Viars say chapters 8-10 are all about
      Christian liberty

- the answer is this - Paul talked about a church's
   financial responsibility to full time Christian servants
   in verses 4-14 as a personal illustration of the way he
   handled issues of Christian liberty

- he going to argue this: "Yes, the church was responsible to
   pay me while I ministered there.  Here's seven biblical
   reasons why that was true.  I had a right to that."
     - BUT - I also had the freedom (liberty), not to accept
        those funds, and  here's why I didn't

- With those thoughts in mind, let's read verses 15-19

- you'll notice in your notes we've copied verses 12-19
   directly from the Bible
- the reason for that is - I'd like to take a moment to talk
   about that second question
      - what questions do we need to answer from these verses
         in order to understand the argument Paul is making
         here?

- I'd like to read the verses and ask you to follow along in
  your notes
    - each time we come to a question, I'd like you to circle
      those words and then draw a line to the right margin
      and write the question.
    - you'll see what I mean in a moment
    - THE GOAL is to carefully understand Paul's argument

- I'll read the verses once straight through, then we'll come
   back and go more slowly

- READ 12 (nevertheless, we did not use this right) 15-19


- let's start with this - verse 15 is:

I. Paul's Personal Testimony Concerning His Teaching In
    Verses 4-14

    INPUT - what were those verses about? (the way a church
      treats Christian servants financially)

    - "a church is responsible to be generous with its
       Christian servants - here's seven strong reasons why
       that's true....but ---I had the Christian liberty not
       to take those funds"
    - and that exactly what Paul did:

    A. I used none of these things - verse 15

       cf. verse 12 - "nevertheless, we have not used this
          right."


       - in other words, when Paul went to Corinth - he got a
         secular job and paid his own way
       - he didn't have to do that - it was at great personal
         sacrifice
       - but he had the liberty, the freedom to do it

       - that was his personal policy where-ever he went
       - he would accept funds from a church after he had
          gone in order to help establish a new church in a
          new place
            - but often times he didn't take money from that
              church while he was there

       - that fact is borne out in many other passages of
         Scripture, and we've given you several of them in
         your notes

           - II Cor. 11:8-9 - "when I was present with you
               and was in need, I was not a burden to anyone
           - I Thes.  2:9 - "you recall brethren, our labor
              and hardship, how working night and day so as
              not to be a burden to any of you..."
           - II Thes.  3:8 - "nor did we eat anyone's bread
              without paying for it, but with labor and
              hardship we kept working night and day so that
              we might not be a burden to any of you."
           - Acts 18:33-35 - I have coveted no one's silver
or gold or clothes. You yourselves know that these hands
ministered to my own needs and to the men who were with me.
In everything I showed you that by working hard in this
manner you must help the weak and remember the words of the
Lord Jesus, that He himself said - It is more blessed to give
than to receive."

- see, Paul's personal testimony is - even though it was my
   right to accept money from you
     - "I used none of these things"
     - I exercised my Christian freedom, (liberty), to not
        accept any funds from you

- now, the natural question that flows out of that is:

- Why? - you have to eat, you have to live
       - why wouldn't you take any funds?
       - OK, you want to exercise your Christian liberty -
          but couldn't you have found a less painful area to
          exercise it in
            - maybe you could have given up anchoives on your
              pizza or something!

            - Why did you do it?  (he answers that negatively
               and positively)

    B. not writing that you'll pay me now

         - v. 15 "...not writing these things (INPUT - what
             things? - verses 4-14)

         - Paul's not saying - "I'm not writing this so we'll
             settle up now."

         - some folks do that
- they do something nice for you - and then they remind you
    of it every time they get a chance
- sometimes you just feel like saying - "just tell me what it
  cost you - I'll pay you - just stop reminding me"

- (illus) - my dad used to remind me at opportune times how
    much it cost to feed me (usually it was at a time when I
     was complaining about not getting paid for doing
     something around the house
        - so he'd say things like
           - "Do you have any idea what it costs to feed you"
           - "I'm going to start feeding you sawdust to cut
               down on the food bill"
           - "If you kids have any more friends over - I'm
              going to start claiming them as exemptions on
              my taxes."

- at times you wanted to say - "OK - just give me the bill -
    figure up the bill, calculate it out and I'll pay it"
- of course my dad, being an accountant--didn't need to
   figure it up - he pretty much had a running total in his
    mind at all times!

- point is - he wasn't telling me that so I'd pay up - he was
   telling me that to make me think

- and that’s what Paul is doing - he makes that clear - I'm
   not telling you this so you'll pay me now
    "I have not written these things that it should be so
     done unto me"
- in fact he says, I wouldn't want you to pay me--WHY?

    C. I don't want to lose my "boast"

        - now most of us are uncomfortable with that
          terminology, because its usually used in a negative
          way
        - many of us struggle with pride - and we know what
          it is to sinfully boast - or to be around a person
          who sins in that way

        - but that’s what Paul says -in fact he says it twice

        - and the KJV, NASB, and the NIV all translate it the
          same way - "boast"

        - I'd like to present to you tonight that it's
          critical for us to understand what Paul's means by
          the use of this word boast

           - I don't think we'll fully profit from the rest
             of these verses without understanding what it
             means to biblically boast
          - we won't fully profit from this extended
            passage in chapters 8-10 without understanding it

- this is an important hinge on which the rest of Paul's
   argument turns
- Paul says -"I did what I did because I don't want to lost
    my boast"


- when Paul talks about "boast" - he's talking about my
  special reasons to rejoice in Him
- my source of glorying in Him

- Paul says - "When I want to thank the Lord for His work in
    my life - there's some information in that data base from
    which to draw!"
- I can look at (blank), something the Lord is doing that
    provides a real source of glorying in Him

- The husband who has taken real strides in loving his wife
    in the last year can objectively look at that and say -
    Praise the Lord - Glory to him
- the mom who's had some real victories in child raising this
   year can objectively look at that and glory in Jesus
   Christ and the work he's done
- the teenager who would say - I was hooked on the wrong kind
   of music - but the Lord has helped me to turn that around
   this year
- the kindergartner who's learning how to memorize Scripture
    and could an extended passage like Psalm 23

- those are reasons to glory in God - as source of rejoicing
   Him

- in Paul's words - those are "biblical boasts"
   - you might say - PV - that term "boast" is so laden with
      negative memories in my experience that I have trouble
      using it in this context
        - that’s OK - we've spoiled some words to the point
          that it hard to use them to communicate positive
          truths
        - so if you want to call this source of rejoicing,
          reasons to glory in Him
             - FINE - we can adjust the terminology - but we
                 can't miss the concept

- Paul says - DON'T you dare pay me - I want special reasons
    in my life to biblically boast
- I want to be able to look at things that God has done (and
    that I have allowed Him to do, and made hard decisions,
    and sacrificed for)
       - YES - I want to rejoice in who God is
          - I want to rejoice in His word
          - but I also want to be able to take a cognitive
            look at my life and find causes to rejoice in Him

- now we're not talking about "beefing up our self-image"
- I hope you saw the cover of NEWSWEEK the week before last
  - cover - "The Curse of Self-Esteem" - what's wrong with
      the feel good movement?"

- the cover shows a picture of a boy standing in front of a
    mirror
      - the child was kind of "dumpy"
      - not well groomed, overweight, etc.
- but in the mirror was this big strong young man with a
   square jaw and all the rest
- standing next to the boy was a dumpy little dog
    - but in the mirror - the dog looked like a cross between
      "Lassy" and "Rin Tin Tin"!

- their point all through the article is that folks are being
  encouraged to feel good about themselves without changing
- it's trying to create feelings without changing realities

- we're not talking about any of those kinds of things
    tonight
- but we are talking about this:
     - taking a cognitive look at what God has done
     - and what have done in co-operation with him
        - and turning and giving him glory and praise

- and see, some folks don't have that
   - some folks really wrestle with security of salvation
     because there's very little evidence in their lives

- Do you know how you know that SIA is a car plant?
    - not because workers go in the building every morning
    - not because you see a semi loaded with tires drive in

    - its because of what you see on the entire south end of
      that building
        - do you know what it is - CARS

    - that’s why you know CAT makes engines

- and Paul says - I didn't take any funds because I want to
   exercise my liberty in a way that provides clear evidence
   that Jesus Christ is my Lord and Savior

- see, Isn't this true - some folks don't have any of that in
    their data base
- have you had this happen when you're working at your
    computer
- you're trying to find a file

- the computer starts searching
   - goes through drive A...B...C...D
   - all megabites
- then it comes up with a message you hate to see (Would you
    like to create a file?)
      - in other words - I've looked everywhere and I can't
        find anything on the subject you're looking for -
        would you like to start one now?

- see, perhaps there's some folks here tonight who would have
   to say
      - boy, when you talk about giving up your rights
      - when you talk about choosing to use your liberty not
          to do a certain thing, or go a certain place, or
          dress a certain way, or to listen to certain things

            - there's just nothing in that data base
            - there's no source for rejoicing in Him if
               that's the category we're looking at
            - or - there's not near the number of
              illustrations there ought to be

- if that’s true (or to whatever degree that’s true) - is it
   possible that there's been a fundamental misunderstanding
   about concerning what Christian liberty is all about?


- Paul's going to structure the rest of the argument this way

  - he's going to say - in order to have this kind of
    lifestyle:

     - you've got to do two things
        1) meet some minimum standards
        2) rise above them

- some of the minimum standards are going to look pretty
   high to us
- but this is critical to the argument he's laying out
    (repeat two points)

II. The Minimum Standards (not a cause for glorying - but
    they must be met).

    A. What it is

        - INPUT - according to that verse - what is the
            minimum standard? (preaching the gospel)
              - telling others about Jesus Christ

        - Paul says - I have nothing to glory of
           ("witnessing does not fit the kind of things I was
             talking about in verse 15")

        - you say "why not?" - some folks, after talking to
           someone about Christ - look for opportunities to
           brag about that for years
        - Paul says – that’s just the minimum
            - that’s not Christian liberty – that’s black and
              white commands of the Bible

        - that's no reason to "biblically boast"

- why not?

    B. Why it is simply a "minimum standard."

        - he gives three reasons in verse 16-17

        1. I am under compulsion

            - it's not like a came up with the idea of
              spreading the good news about Jesus Christ on
              my own
            - Why...the Lord had to strike me blind on the
                road to Damascus
            - He had to speak to me audibly and make me look
               at my sin of persecuting the church
            - He had to give me personal instructions on who
              to evangelize and how to evangelize

            - nothing to glory of there

        2. I didn't do it willingly

            - Do you see at the beginning of verse 17 - where
              Paul says - "If I do this voluntarily"


            - we said earlier we needed to answer the
              question - is he saying he was or he wasn't
              doing it voluntarily
            - INPUT - what's the answer?
                - he's saying -he wasn't (I didn’t do this
                  voluntarily) - no reason to glory in that

        3. it is a stewardship

            - telling others about Jesus Christ is critical
            - but it's no reason to glory
               - I didn't come up with the gospel message
               - I didn't die for anyone's sins
               - I tell others about Jesus Christ because it
                    was entrusted to me

- see, Paul is saying – that’s just the minimums
  - we ought to do it, we must do it
  - but those kinds of things don't fit into "point I"
      - they don't fit into verse 15

- part of our problem is - at times our standards are way too
   low
- having the right standard is critical to making the right
   evaluation of how things are going

    - sometimes we can be like the teacher who's class does
       poorly on the test
          - so he changes the grading scale

          - so does that mean the kids any better on the test
          - of course not, he just changed the standard

- its possible for us to be satisfied with standards that are
   lower than the Lord's

- For example - if we asked you tonight  - what examples
   could you give from your life where you chose to limit
   your freedom out of love for the Lord, love for his
   people, love for ministry

    - what's your source of spiritual boasting?
        - your special reason to rejoice in the Lord?

     - someone might say - well, I come to church
        - that's well and good - but that’s not what we're
           talking about here (that’s a black and white issue
           in the Bible – that’s just the minimum)
     - well, I try to love my wife
        - that’s good - we should - but that’s what this
            passage is talking about (that’s a black and white
            issue in the Bible)
     - well, I try to be submissive to authority
        - that’s good - we should do that (but that’s a black
            and white issue in the Bible)

- see, this passage is talking about people who are
   interested in more than the minimums
- they want the way they exercise their liberty in Christ to
    be a special source of rejoicing and glorying in God


- we're talking about these kind of people

1) people who serve aggressively and sacrificially
    - service is an area of Christian liberty
    - the Bible doesn't come out and tell us exactly how much
       and how often
    - we have to serve and use our gifts, but there's some
        freedom from which to choose
           - there's parameters, buoys

    - people that fit these verses are folks that would stand
       out in the cold in the Living Nativity night after
       night over Christmas to minister the gospel in a
       special way
    - they're people who take on a responsibility even though
      its going to be a "stretch"

2) a young person who realizes that the Bible has some
   definite things to say about music.
    - but there's also some freedom, liberty, parameters
    - the kind of young person we're talking about tonight
       would say
         - I've chosen to exercise my liberty to not be
           involved in music that’s even questionable because
           I want to guard my testimony for Jesus Christ as
           cautiously as possible

3) or its the person who says - sure there's freedom when it
   comes to exactly how much I attend church.
     - but I want a source of special rejoicing in the Lord.
     - I want to be able to look at that area of my life and
        say - "Lord, it sure wasn't this way before - thank
        you for working in my heart and life in this way."

4) It's the person who would come to the Pig Roast or other
    summer social events dressed conservatively saying -
      - sure there's freedom in this area - but if I'm going
        to error - it's going to be on the side of
        conservatism

- see as Peter said - "Act as free men, and do not use your
   freedom as a covering for evil, but use it as bond-slaves
   for God." (I Peter 2:16)

- those kinds of folks aren't just concerned with meeting the
   minimum standards - they want to rise above

III.  What It Takes To "Rise Above"

    A. In Paul's Case

        "I may make the gospel of Christ without charge"

        - He ministered without accepting any pay

        - now, you may have been wondering all along, why
          doesn't are pastoral staff do this?
            - in fact, let's have a special business meeting
              right now, cut out all salaries--this will be
              great
            - hold on a minute – let’s not get carried away!

        - let me say several things about this

      1)- all of us on the pastoral staff have been in
          positions where we sacrificed to be in the
          ministry.

        - (personal testimony - $25 per week)

            - Pastor Goode - $30 per week
            - Pastors Dutton and Lopez - worked at the Wilds
                for years
            - point is - we have
        2) What Paul did here, he never recommended to
           another church or pastor.  In fact, in II Cor., he
           even says it may have been a mistake that he did
           it.
        3) If we got in a position where it was financially
           necessary to do so -we'd all be willing to. (cf. a
           localized recession - we would all of a sudden
           "get the call" to some other place.)
        4) But it would be important for all of us to
           "sacrifice together." Some churches have used
           verses like these to ask their pastor to do
           something that they weren't willing to do.

- so the point is - Paul wanted to "rise above"
- in his case, that meant--not taking a salary

- question tonight is- what does it mean in your case?

    B. In light of the broader context

       - we're talking about exercising Christian liberty in
         a way that gives us special reason to rejoice in
         Him.
       - Paul called it "spiritual boasting"

(talking about not being a person that has to be told every
last thing---could illustrate-with telling kids to pick up
socks-neglects to pick up pants rights next to socks)
   - spiritual initiative, ambition, maturity

Steve Viars

B.S. - Bible, Baptist Bible College
M.Div. - Grace Theological Seminary
D.Min. - Westminster Theological Seminary

Pastor Steve Viars has served at Faith Church since 1987. He and his wife Kris were married in 1982 and have two married daughters, a son, and two grandchildren. Pastor Viars’ gifted teaching ministry, enthusiasm for the Word of God, and organizational skills are instrumental in equipping Faith Church. He oversees the staff, deacons, and all Faith ministries and serves on the boards of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, Biblical Counseling Coalition, Vision of Hope, and the Faith Community Development Corporation.

Read Steve Viars’ Journey to Faith for the full account of how the Lord led Pastor Viars to Faith Church.

View Pastor Viars' Salvation Testimony Video