(1 Corinthians 9:19-23)
January 28, 2024
Welcome, my name is D.J. Goble and I am the Youth Minister here at MACC!
I hope you are as excited to be here today as I am so we can worship together as a church family.
Show of hands, how many of us in here this morning are competitive?
Now for those that tried to raise their hands first, I know are telling the truth!
Now, ask a spouse or a friend if they think you are competitive?
In my family we are competitive about some things, not all things.
Now, when it comes to games we are competitive.
Throughout most of my time in high school and college, one game or sport that I got really competitive with was cornhole. My Dad got really into cornhole, and got really good at cornhole. Throughout practicing to get better, he made me go out there with him. He was always the unbeatable force.
Well my competitive side got the better of me, because I went away to college and realized that I was pretty good at cornhole compared to all of my other friends. And the competitiveness came out when I came home to visit one weekend and called him out.
And I won!!! …kidding, he beat me
His competitiveness outshined my competitiveness
And I haven’t even gotten into the competition that takes place during family game nights. For most people family game night means a nice relaxing evening of playing simple games with family.
Well for my family, it means a chaotic night of trash talking, flexing on others when we win, and getting to call out grandparents for cheating just because they beat you at a game of euchre
Or when we quit halfway through a trivia game because whichever team has my mom on it has an unfair advantage
The reason we are competitive is that we like to win, am I right.
Well if that is you, then you are in good company.
In our passage this morning the Apostle Paul uses the word win 5 times.
Now the word win in English is ambiguous.
You can win a prize, and you can win an argument.
What does Paul mean by win — win all these people?
If you win a prize, you gain it: “I’ve got it. I have it. Mine!”
If you win an argument, you defeat somebody.
What’s Paul’s meaning?
There’s no doubt what his meaning is.
It’s on the face of it, but it’s even more clear in the original language.
He means, “I win a prize. I gain a prize.”
Κερδαίνω is the verb for win. (Ker-dah-ee-no)
It’s almost always translated gain (except for here and one other place), like in Matthew 16:26: “What will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul?”
That’s Κερδαίνω, the word win here. (Ker-dah-ee-no)
So his point is, “I want to GAIN Jews.
I want to GAIN Gentiles.
I want to GAIN the weak.
I DON’T want to GAIN money.
I DON’T want to GAIN power and rights.
The gospel has assured me that I get great gain in fully enjoying Christ, so what can I add to that?
More enjoyers of Christ for me to enjoy.”
What does that even mean?
Paul tells us what he means by the reward of gaining people in 1 Corinthians 9:23:
“I do it all for the sake of the gospel [here comes the purpose statement], that I may share with them [that is, with all those people that I gained] in its blessings.”
So he wants to gain more and more people so that he might share in the gospel blessings with them.
1 Corinthians 9:19-23
Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. 20 To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. 21 To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. 22 To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. 23 I do all this for the sake of the Gospel, that I may share in its blessings.
Paul desires to share the Gospel with others so that others may share the joy of the Gospel and in turn share the Gospel with even more people.
This is what our second Core Value means (These Core Values that can be found on the wall in the Atrium as you walk in): WE ARE COMMISSIONED TO SEEK LOST PEOPLE.
As we seek lost people we must make sure we are telling them about Jesus and that they are following Jesus.
Because in our culture and in our church cultures we have people more concerned about following their pastors or ministers than they are about following Jesus.
We have some who are more concerned about the music and lights and the show than they are about Jesus.
We have some who are more concerned with being able to say, I attend a mega church rather than I follow Jesus.
Or say I attend this certain church or this church or this one rather than I follow Jesus.
So, I want to tell you why this idea of winning is so important.
We are engaged in a great Spiritual Battle.
Satan is doing all he can to draw people to himself in the guise of the church.
And many people have become disciples of a church or a pastor and not Jesus.
Matthew 16:24, Jesus said, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.”
What Jesus is saying is if we want to be his disciple then He must be the example we follow.
The Apostle Paul calls us ambassadors for Christ in 2 Corinthians 5:20, We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us.
So, since Christ is our example and we are his ambassadors I want to look at the life of Jesus and see how he teaches us to live a life of seeking lost people and winning them to him.
I believe seeking lost people happens best as we honor Jesus by living our faith story, verbally, non-verbally, locally and globally, and by building relationships focused on sharing the love of Christ.
No one did this better than Jesus and there are several things we can learn from the life and ministry of Jesus and use in our lives as we too share the Gospel with others.
When it comes to sharing our faith, which is what it means to seek lost people, we can easily become a bit tight-lipped.
It is scary for a lot of people!
We worry about what the person will think of us?
Will they think I’m judging them for their life choices?
What if they ask a question I don’t know the answer to?
What if their image of me changes?
Will they make fun of me?
All these questions can go buzzing around our head just as we approach the subject.
So, we need help to know how to go about this and no one did this better than Jesus, so let’s see what we learn from Him as we seek lost people to win them to Christ.
First, JESUS INVITED PEOPLE TO A RELATIONSHIP WITH HIM, NOT A RELIGION.
Matthew 4:18-22, 18 As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. 19 “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” 20 At once they left their nets and followed him. 21 Going on from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John. They were in a boat with their father Zebedee, preparing their nets. Jesus called them, 22 and immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him.
Now, don’t misunderstand me here, we do need to invite people to come and be a part of our church, I mean the church is the bride of Christ, but too many times we simply invite people to church and never invite them to a relationship with Jesus and there’s the rub.
Folks, I believe we all know this, but simply attending a church service will not get you into heaven, we need to be surrendered to Jesus.
However, Christians who do not attend, I think you are playing a dangerous game, there is a reason that the Scriptures say, continue to meet together…We need each other, accountability, encouragement, exhortation, and other reasons.
Back to my point, we must invite people to a relationship with Jesus and not just a religious church service.
A few years back my dad had the perfect opportunity to put this plan into action. When my dad was growing up, he had little to no relationship with his grandpa. As many of us may know, a relationship with a grandpa can be very special. Well my dad had found out through someone else in his family that his grandpa had been diagnosed with cancer.
Most people in this situation would have said, “good riddance”, right, because my dad didn’t even have a personal relationship with him. But one of my dad’s closest friends spoke up and told him that he had a special opportunity to speak to him about a relationship with Jesus. So my dad went over to his house, having not seen him for several years, knocked on his door and invited him to a relationship with Jesus. Notice what I said here, he didn’t invite him to a relationship with himself or with the church he was attending, but he put aside all bitterness towards him and invited him to a relationship with JESUS
These disciples had been steeped in religion from the time of their birth, but Jesus was inviting them to something much deeper, much more meaningful.
He was inviting them unto himself.
Folks let’s take a lesson from Jesus and don’t just invite people to church, because church can’t save them, invite them to Jesus, and encourage them to start coming to church:
– so they may connect with God and others in church
– so they may grow in God with others in church
– so they may serve God and others with the church
– so they can share the message of the Gospel and invite others to Jesus and the church.
Jesus invites us into a relationship not a religion.
Something else Jesus teaches us as we seek lost people is that:
EVERY TIME HE SHARED IT WAS A UNIQUE ENCOUNTER.
Jesus offered an unchanging message, but He delivered it uniquely to each person and situation.
For Jesus there was no one-size-fits-all, cookie-cutter approach to, seeking lost people, to reaching and sharing the Gospel with people.
We see the time that Jesus asked for a drink of water from the Samaritan woman at the well, and through that introduced her to the living water.
With Zacchaeus, he called out to him and asked to stay at his house. That simple acknowledgement changed Zacchaeus’ life.
There were even the men who were walking on the road to Emmaus, who didn’t recognize him until Jesus broke bread. A simple act to some, that referenced something important about the Gospel that we share in every week through Communion or breaking bread with one another.
And several examples of Jesus sharing the Gospel with people through miracles. These miraculous things would happen and these people would go into town to tell everyone about what they just saw occur.
Or the one that we’ll talk about in closer detail this morning which is the woman caught in adultery.
This woman was caught in the act of adultery and these teachers of the law brought her to Jesus, don’t story book this, this woman was drug through town probably half naked, maybe completely naked, and the man she was with wasn’t even rebuked.
And in the midst of the hostility directed toward her, Jesus defends her, not her actions, but defends her.
How many of you are ready to defend people whose actions detest you?
Like my dad when put aside all the things that his grandpa did or more so didn’t do in his life that he detested
These leaders are ready to stone her and under the law rightfully so, but Jesus defends her…
But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger.7 When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” (John 8:6-7),
So, in essence what Jesus is saying is hey if you don’t have any sin, then be my guest.
Some of us have acted like these teachers of the law and the Pharisee’s and been judgmental over people’s sins, when we need to be like Jesus.
Donnie has been saying and praying for years and years that we would be a messy church, filled with people like this woman and then be able to minister to her.
But Jesus turns to her and says, I don’t condemn you, leave your life of sin…
Jesus planted a seed, maybe someone else watered it, but God makes it grow, we don’t know, but I doubt that there was harvest at this time.
Sometimes we are going to encounter people who have been so mistreated by the religious uptight and they need to be defended, not their actions, but they need to feel the love of God.
Listen, this is why I am not a big fan of canned presentations of the Gospel, instead we need to understand where someone is in life and share the unchanging Gospel in different ways, maybe focusing on different elements at different times, and maybe all we ever do is plant a seed in someone’s life and someone else waters that seed, but if we don’t plant that seed then there maybe nothing to water.
We plant the same seed every time, but the soil is always different which means the manner in which we plant must be soil specific.
Each person is different and each encounter we have with people as we share the Gospel is unique.
We are commissioned to seek lost people and every person is at a different place in life and at a different place in their relationship with Jesus.
So, Jesus teaches us that we need to make sure we are inviting people to a relationship not a religion, that each time we share the Gospel each encounter is unique and:
Finally, JESUS TEACHES US THAT WE MUST PROCLAIM THE GOSPEL.
The Gospel message has to be shared audibly.
Throughout the centuries it has been attributed to St. Francis of Assisi for saying, Preach the Gospel at all times and if necessary use words.
We have no solid proof that he actually said that, so whoever said it was wise.
Many Christians have jumped on that quote with both feet, but they have completely misinterpreted it as to mean that they don’t have to engage in conversation with others.
I believe this is a gross misunderstanding of what was meant.
Yes, the actions of our daily living should be attractive to others in such a way that they are curious about what makes us different…remember we are not to conform to this world but be transformed by the renewing of our minds (Rom. 12:2).
And when we live differently than the world, not in some weird way, but in a Christ-like way, people will talk to us and we must be prepared to engage in conversation with them, because we don’t want people following us, we want them following Jesus.
I will let you down, the elders will let you down, our staff will let you down…we are not Jesus, but he never lets you down.
So, as we live our lives we must be prepared to proclaim the Gospel as we seek lost people.
Preach the Gospel.
The word proclaim is the Greek word λαλέω and it means to speak…to say words to someone else. (la-le-o)
I know there is much controversy around Mark Driscoll but what he wrote in his book A Call to Resurgence drives this point home when he says, “In many church congregations, the church favors showing the gospel and abandons speaking the gospel altogether. The problem is, the gospel cannot be shown; it must be spoken. Love, grace, mercy, justice, and the like can be shown with works. The gospel of Jesus Christ, however, must be spoken with words, because the gospel of Jesus Christ is not about our deeds but rather Jesus’ deeds: his sinless life, substitutionary death, burial, and bodily resurrection for the salvation of sinners.” Then Driscoll goes on to talk about what happens without the Gospel being spoken. He says, “Without the gospel of Jesus Christ, you may still have morality, spirituality, and charity, but what you don’t have is Christianity. Real Christianity result in these things but cannot be replaced by them.”
The gospel of Jesus Christ is about what Jesus has done and it must be spoken…
As you seek lost people, share with them what Jesus has done in your life, people cannot refute your personal testimony…
If you need some help with how to shape your personal testimony please visit the Adult Ministry table right outside the worship center as Christina has prepared a resource that you can use to build your testimony
He takes us from sin to salvation, from darkness to light, from despair to joy and that has to be explained.
We are commissioned according to Matthew 28:18-20 to share the Gospel with others as individuals… Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
We have an obligation to Jesus to share what Jesus has done for us and what he can do for others.
I am thankful for people like my dad who audibly share the Gospel with people like his grandpa, because he was expected to pass away very soon, and God prompted my dad to share with him not about his church, or about himself, but about his Savior.
Imagine if he hadn’t been faithful and shared the message of the Gospel.
His grandpa could have entered a Christ-less eternity.
Imagine all the people God brings in your path each day, start looking at those as opportunities to share the Gospel and stop praying for God to bring opportunities to you, he is, share where you are.
We have thousands and thousands of people in this community who don’t have a personal relationship with Christ, and Jesus is giving you countless opportunities to share.
So, open your mouth and share as you seek lost people.
Jesus teaches us to invite people into a relationship not just a religion, that every encounter is unique, and that we must proclaim the Gospel.
Please look at verse 22 with me again.
22 To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some.
What does Paul mean here when he says to save some?
Well, he doesn’t mean that he’s the Savior.
He doesn’t mean he’s the means of people’s salvation.
What does he mean?
Romans 5:9: “Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God.”
Or 1 Thessalonians 1:10: “Jesus . . . delivers us from the wrath to come.”
Being saved, means first and fundamentally — that God, by means of the substitution of Christ bearing our condemnation, saves us from God.
And you must understand that in order to understand the Gospel.
We are saved by God from God.
We’re saved by the love of God from the wrath of God.
Christ was sent by God to reconcile us to God and lead us out of wrath.
In 1 Corinthians 9:23, Paul says, 23 I do all this for the sake of the Gospel, that I may share in its blessings.
Meaning, “I want to share with what happens when they hear the verdict in the courtroom, ‘not guilty,’ and they run out of the courtroom and do handsprings down the sidewalk in front of the court, saying, ‘I’m not going to be executed! I’m not going to be killed! I’m not going to be spending eternity in hell! I am free!’”
“I want to be there,” Paul said. “I want to share in that. I want to watch that happen all over the world with Jews and Gentiles.”
If it only happens to one person in your life, it will be one of the sweetest moments of your life to have a person thank you and watch them come into the enjoyment of no condemnation forever.
We are commissioned to seek lost people.
As you build relationships with people, build them with eternity in mind and it will cause you to want to share the Gospel.
Let’s Honor Jesus by living our faith story, and sharing verbally, non-verbally, and by building relationships focused on sharing the love of Christ so that we may win as many as possible.