The Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany
Sunday, February 8, 2009
1 Corinthians 9:16-27
“For the Sake of the Gospel”
St. John Lutheran Church
Rev. Wade R. Mattsfield
1 Corinthians 9:16-27 ~ 16 For if I Gospel, it is not for me a boasting, for necessity lies upon me. For it is woe to me if I do not Gospel. 17 For if I do this of my own will, I have reward. But if unwillingly, I have been trusted with a responsibility. 18 And so, what is my reward? That Gospelling, I would set out the Gospel free of charge, that I not make full use of my authority in the Gospel. 19 For being free form all, I have enslaved myself to all, in order that I would gain more. 20 And becoming to the Jews as a Jew, I might gain, to the ones under the law as one under the law, in order that I might gain ones under the law. 21 To the ones lawless, as one lawless (not being lawless of God, but subject to Christ) in order that I might gain the lawless. I became to the weak, weak, in order that I might gain the weak.. To all, I became all in order in all things that I save some. 23 But all I do because of the Gospel, in order that I might become a participant of it. 24 Do you not know that in a race course, all the running ones run, but one receives the prize? Run thus, in order that you might make it your own. 25 And every struggling one exercises self control in all things. And so, on the one hand that one in order that they might receive a perishable crown, but you, imperishable. 26 I, for that very reason thus run as not without a goal. Thus, I box as not beating the air. 27 But I keep my body under control and I make myself a slave, having proclaimed to others, I not somehow become disqualified.
Goal: That the Word of God proclaimed to the hearers cause rejoicing in the power of the Gospel.
In Nomine Jesu
I. It is easy to admire the Apostle Paul.
A. He had devoted his life to telling people everywhere about Jesus.
1. We read in the Acts of the Apostles of how Paul traveled the whole world, even putting his life at risk, to tell people about Jesus.
2. Everywhere Paul went; he told of Jesus and Him crucified.
B. He was so devoted to Jesus that he would become all things to all people.
1. He tells us that he became like the Jews to those who were Jews to win over those who were Jews.
a. Though not bound by the ceremonial law, such as circumcision, Paul was careful to keep what he could, so as not to unnecessarily offend the Jews.
b. And so Paul became like one under the Law, like one outside the Law, and one weak.
2. He did all this in the hopes that he just might win over one person.
C. We can’t help but admire Paul.
II. Yet, as much as we admire Paul, I’d bet most of us have a hard time living up to his example.
A. We are reluctant to become all things to all people.
1. It’s easy to reach out to people like us.
a. We feel comfortable with those of the same ethnicity, the same social class, and the same backgrounds that we have.
b. When we reach out to people like us, we don’t have to change any part of who we are.
2. It’s just a little bit harder to reach out to people who are different.
a. How many of you regularly spend time with those in our community who are Hispanic?
b. It is hard to reach outside of those areas in our lives where we fee comfortable.
c. And sometimes we don’t even tolerate things like unexpected changes in the service, disruptive children or people who don’t dress right for church.
B. The more we struggle to be good witnesses, the guiltier we feel when we don’t live up to Paul’s example
1. We see our failings, and they weigh heavy on our hearts.
a. We count our missed opportunities and blame ourselves for not doing enough.
b. We watch our dwindling attendance and we worry.
2. We are told that people are dying and going to hell, all because we haven’t done enough to reach out to them.
C. If its all about what we do to win people for Christ, we have a long way to go.
III. It’s not about you and it’s not about Paul.
A. When our eyes are on ourselves, we begin to lose focus.
1. We sometimes do think that it’s all up to us.
a. We curse ourselves or others for not doing enough.
b. And the we almost break our arms trying to pat ourselves on the backs when we do something good.
2. It is only when we give up on what we have to do that the cross comes back into focus.
B. Paul doesn’t – indeed, he can’t – boast about the work of spreading the Gospel.
1. He’s not even trying to be modest.
a. Paul had plenty to boast about if he wanted, and he knew it.
b. But he knew that nothing he had or did was really worth boasting about.
c. In fact, even his time preaching Jesus wasn’t much, for he knew that it wasn’t him, but the One who saved him that did the work.
2. It is the Gospel itself that works within Paul.
a. The Gospel is nor merely words.
b. It is the power of God for salvation for all who believe. (Romans 1:16)
c. Paul preached Jesus because of what Jesus had done for him.
IV. Jesus has done it all for you.
A. It is Jesus who made the difference.
1. Jesus has reached out to all people.
a. He has reached out to the outcast and sinners – to those of different ethnic backgrounds and classes.
b. Jesus took on their burdens and hurts, healing disease and spending time with the outcast.
2. He has borne their sin – their failing, even their most wicked deeds.
3. He has even come to take away Paul’s sins and your sins.
B. It is Jesus who has saved us.
1. He died on the cross.
a. With His death, he paid the price that our sins deserved, removing the wall that keeps us from God.
b. He has poured out His blood so that all your sins would no longer count – for thei are washed away.
c. With His death, He gives you life.
2. He rose from the dead.
a. He put an end even to death once for all people.
b. For with His resurrection, we have the promise that we too will rise – death will not hold us.
3. He is the one – the only one – who can save
a. He has died for the sins of the world.
b. Life is found in Him.
C. This is what we call the Gospel.
1. The Word “Gospel” simply means good news.
a. Of course, the Gospel we’re talking about now, is the best news ever.
b. What better news is there in how Jesus has saved us from sin, from death and from hell!
c. We have life in Jesus Christ!
2. This Good News changes lives.
a. When you focus on what you do to reach out, the Gospel gets crowded out
b. When you focus on the Gospel, everything else (including mission) follows.
V. You see, when this good news takes hold of you, it cannot be contained.
A. This good news, first and foremost, is for you.
1. Jesus has died and rose for you.
2. When we this news truly fills your life, it is truly good news.
B. But when your sins are truly forgiven and you are filled with that new life, it can’t help but burst out.
1. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!
2. Just like it was for Paul, so it is for us.