All of Christ for All of Life
Grace Alone, Faith Alone, Christ Alone

16 April 2021 – 1 Corinthians 9:1-14

Am I not free? Am I not an apostle? Have I not seen Jesus our Lord? Are not you my workmanship in the Lord? If to others I am not an apostle, at least I am to you, for you are the seal of my apostleship in the Lord.

This is my defense to those who would examine me. Do we not have the right to eat and drink? Do we not have the right to take along a believing wife, as do the other apostles and the brothers of the Lord and Cephas? Or is it only Barnabas and I who have no right to refrain from working for a living? Who serves as a soldier at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard without eating any of its fruit? Or who tends a flock without getting some of the milk?

Do I say these things on human authority? Does not the Law say the same? For it is written in the Law of Moses, “You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain.” Is it for oxen that God is concerned? Does he not certainly speak for our sake? It was written for our sake, because the plowman should plow in hope and the thresher thresh in hope of sharing in the crop. If we have sown spiritual things among you, is it too much if we reap material things from you? If others share this rightful claim on you, do not we even more?

Nevertheless, we have not made use of this right, but we endure anything rather than put an obstacle in the way of the gospel of Christ. Do you not know that those who are employed in the temple service get their food from the temple, and those who serve at the altar share in the sacrificial offerings? In the same way, the Lord commanded that those who proclaim the gospel should get their living by the gospel. – 1 Corinthians 9:1-14 (ESV)

The Declaration of Independence declares: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.” This is deeply ingrained in the American psyche, but is it true? Is the pursuit of happiness really a God given right? Let me sidestep that question by asking a different question: As followers of Jesus Christ, how should we treat our rights and our desires? It may seem odd to lump rights and desires together. Most of us learn at a tender age that just because we want something doesn’t mean that we are entitled to it. Nevertheless, both our rights and desires belong in the same place – at the foot of the cross. There is nothing wrong with rights and desires. After all, Paul used the rights of his Roman citizenship to avoid being sent to a nearly certain death in Jerusalem, but he also delayed using those rights in Philippi where he allowed himself to be beaten. What made those circumstances different? In Philippi, Paul realized that immediately invoking his Roman citizenship he would have been placing himself in a different category than some of the young converts there. This would have made it much harder for him to faithfully teach them the whole counsel of God’s word because some could have easily thought that “Paul doesn’t know what it is like to suffer for the faith the way that we do.” Furthermore, by invoking his citizenship only after he had been beaten actually provided a degree of protection to those young Christians he was leaving behind. The civil authorities would no longer be so quick to take the rod to the new Christians of Philippi. So Paul was willing to claim his rights but he was also willing to lay them aside for the glory of Christ and the blessing of His Church. This should be our approach as well. In today’s passage, Paul explains that he had been doing exactly the same thing with respect to receiving financial support from the Corinthians. Paul literally heaps up reason upon reason for why they should be supporting him financially to include analogies to secular occupations, the Old Testament law, and the express commandment of Jesus Christ. Yet, Paul was willing to surrender these rights so that no one would imagine that they could purchase the gospel or lay a claim on the Apostle’s life when he was a slave of Jesus Christ

MEMORY WORK – Shorter Catechism Q/A 6
Q. 6. How many persons are there in the godhead?
A. There are three persons in the Godhead; the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost; and these three are one God, the same in substance, equal in power and glory.