Entrusted To Me

Wednesday, September 24, 2014, 3:00 p.m. – the Lord Jesus put in mind the song, “Should I Not Preach Jesus.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read 1 Corinthians 9 (quoting vv. 13-27 in the NASB).

A True Servant

Do you not know that those who perform sacred services eat the food of the temple, and those who attend regularly to the altar have their share from the altar? So also the Lord directed those who proclaim the gospel to get their living from the gospel.

But I have used none of these things. And I am not writing these things so that it will be done so in my case; for it would be better for me to die than have any man make my boast an empty one. For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for I am under compulsion; for woe is me if I do not preach the gospel. For if I do this voluntarily, I have a reward; but if against my will, I have a stewardship entrusted to me. What then is my reward? That, when I preach the gospel, I may offer the gospel without charge, so as not to make full use of my right in the gospel.

Paul was called by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus (Ro. 1:1). So, when he speaks here of preaching the gospel voluntarily vs. against his will, he is speaking of preaching the gospel of one’s own accord vs. not of one’s own will; of receiving wages for preaching vs. being faithful to a trust. In other words, Paul didn’t just decide one day to be a minister of the gospel of Christ. In fact, he was a strong persecutor and a murderer of Christians. It was only because of the will of God that Paul was called of Jesus Christ to this ministry, and it was only because of the transformation of the Spirit in his heart and the empowerment of the Spirit in his life that he did what he did and he became who he was.

He didn’t preach the gospel out of his own decision (idea) to do so, and he did not do so, either, for financial gain. He preached the gospel of Jesus Christ because God had called him, had entrusted him with the gospel, and because he was compelled of the Spirit of God to do so. If he was in it for the money or the fame, that would have been short lived, and he probably would have given up and jumped ship at the first sign of persecution. The only reason he was able to remain steadfast, even in the face of severe persecution, is because he had been given a trust, he knew the seriousness of his assignment, he did so for love of God and his fellow humans, and because he knew the power of the gospel to change lives.

When Paul was called of God to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ, he did so in weakness and fear. He didn’t speak with haughty speech or with worldly wisdom, but in the power of the Spirit of God within him. Amen!

So many preachers today are being taught how to preach persuasively using human wisdom and techniques to attract large audiences, but they lack the power of the Holy Spirit in their preaching. Paul understood that only the Spirit of God had the power to convict of sin and to change lives. As well, he did not want his listeners to rest their faith in human knowledge and understanding, but in the power of God. Amen! Paul said, “We have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God” (2:12). Oh, that our preachers today would learn this valuable lesson! He said, “We impart words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual” (2:13). We need to get back to the basics! Where are all the preachers empowered in the Spirit?

For the Gospel

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.

Paul was also humble in his preaching of the gospel. He made himself a servant to all, and he was a servant of Christ, to do the will of God. He was faithful in his service to God and to his calling. He also gave the glory to God and did not take credit himself for what God did. He realized that all he had that was good was of God and not of himself. We need more humble servants of the Lord who are not in it for themselves or for what they can get out of it, but are more concerned with the things of God and the needs of people than they are with their own reputations and worldly success.

Some people may read this passage of scripture and think that Paul was saying that he compromised his faith and practice in order to win over people, but he did not! Some may use this passage of scripture as a justification for immersing ourselves in today’s culture, thinking that we must become like the world in order to reach the world. That is not what Paul said here. From his other teachings, and his life and witness, we can ascertain that Paul was not promoting spiritual compromise as a means and justification for reaching various people groups, nor was he promoting using man’s methods and marketing techniques for drawing in large groups of people. He also did not use manipulation, fakery or deception to try to reach people. He did not change who he was to win over people.

I believe Paul was speaking here metaphorically of how he spoke to people right where they were, and how he tried to relate to them on their level of intellect or experience. For example, when he was in Athens, he spent some time observing their culture and noticing their idols (See Ac. 17), and he used his observations as a starting point for conversation with them, and as a segue into sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ with them. We don’t become like the culture around us in order to minister the love of Christ to people, but we should try to meet people where they are, and we should try to relate to them on a level with which they can identify, but which would not involve us compromising our faith and practice in any way. I believe this also means that we humble ourselves by being willing to admit our own weaknesses and failures, and to not act as though we have never sinned.

Not Without Aim

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. 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.

Paul is not promoting works-based salvation here. Some people, in order to shake off works-based salvation, though, have gone to the opposite extreme so as to exclude works altogether. Yet, the Bible teaches us that we are called to good works which God has prepared in advance for us to do. “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them” (See: Eph. 2:10).

Our works do not save us, but they do reveal whether or not we are genuinely saved. For instance, in 1 John we read that if we say we have fellowship with God but we continue to live sinful lifestyles, then we are liars. If we say we love God, but we do not do what he says, i.e. what his word teaches us, then we are liars; we do not love God nor do we know him. Now, it is not all that black and white, though. We will all fail at times. This is not about having to live in absolute perfection or “Bam!” the ax falls. But, it is about living like we say we believe. If we believe Jesus saved us from our sins, then we should no longer live for ourselves, and we should no longer walk (in lifestyle) in the ways of the flesh, but we should walk in the Spirit of God, and live holy lives pleasing to him in his Spirit.

As well, we should be very purposeful and intentional in how we live our lives, and not just do our own thing and give God the leftovers, thinking that God will be pleased. The Bible teaches us that Jesus Christ died so we would no longer live for ourselves but for him who gave himself up for us (2 Co. 5:15). As well, God’s grace teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions and to live self-controlled and upright lives in this present age while we wait for his return (Tit. 2:11-14).

The Application

Jesus said that we are to go into all of the world and to make disciples of him of all nations, baptizing and teaching them to obey all that he has commanded us (See Mt. 28:18-20). He said that when the Spirit of God comes upon us, whom we receive when we believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and as Savior, we will be his witnesses throughout the world (See Ac. 1:8). He said that we are the light of the world; a city on a hill that cannot be hidden. We are, thus, to let our light shine before others, so that they may see our good deeds and glorify our Father in heaven (See Mt. 5:14-16). As well, we read in Ro. 10:14-15 (NIV):

“How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!’”

None of us should be negligent in sharing the full gospel of Jesus Christ with others, for it speaks to them the words of life. Jesus said that if anyone would come after him, he must deny himself (his self-life), take up his cross daily (die daily to sin and self), and follow (obey) him. He said that if we hold on to our old lives of living for self and sin we will lose them for eternity, but if we die to sin and self, we will gain eternal life. This is what we are to teach, calling others to turn from their sin, and to walk by faith in Jesus Christ their Lord.

Should I Not Preach Jesus
An Original Work / July 4, 2013

Based off 1 Corinthians 9:16-10:13

Woe to me should I not preach Jesus.
I’m compelled to preach the full gospel.
I make myself a slave to ev’ryone
To win their hearts to Christ.
All this I do for my Lord Jesus,
And for the sake of His Name;
Do it for the sake of His gospel,
So that I, its blessings gain.

Scripture notates the sins of others;
Written down for us as examples
To keep us from setting our hearts
On evil as did those of old.
Do not worship other gods of man;
Do not give your hearts to them;
Not partake in immorality.
Do not test your Lord and King.

So, be careful if you think you are
Standing firm in your faith in Jesus.
God has given his word to warn us,
So through faith we will not fall.
No temptation has o’ertaken you
Except what is commonplace.
God is faithful to not let you be
Tempted past what you can bear.
He gives the way of escape.