Summary: Using Paul’s defense as an outline for what it means to live with a Christian Liberty that honors Christ.
SERIES: PRESCRIPTIONS FOR A HEALTHY & HOLY CHURCH:
A Study in 1 Corinthians Applied To The Church Today
III. MAINTAINING PROPER DIET & EXERCISE
B.) FREEDOM TO CHOOSE FITNESS
“ATTITUDE IS EVERYTHING” (1 Cor. 9:1-18)
Rev. Todd G. Leupold, Perth Bible Church, March 29, 2009 AM
In Christ we are FREE! The question, though, is “for what purpose are we free?” Yes, we do have the freedom to choose either to be fit and healthy or flabby and unhealthy. But did Christ purchase our freedom on the cross equally for either option? Of course not! He secured our freedom through His own sacrifice in order that we might exercise our newfound freedom to follow Him in His ways and for His purposes!
There is much talk about our “Christian Liberty.” But what does that really mean? In our text this morning, Paul answers this question for us as he responds to the Corinthians’ challenges against his apostleship as a result of his choosing to be different than their expectations. Imagine that?!
Friends, Christian Liberty that honors Christ starts with a . . .
SEAL OF APPROVAL (vv. 1-2)
Paul begins this address with a defense of his apostleship, since everything else hinges on that issue.
It is his apostleship appointed by Christ, and not his position, intelligence, training, or personality that is the basis of his authority to instruct and hold the Corinthians accountable according to God’s Word and will.
Paul begins his defense with a series of four rhetorical questions, each of which is expressed in a manner that clearly expects a positive answer.
“Am I not free?” Of course I am, as are you. Not only you, but I also have Christian liberty.
“Am I not an apostle?” Do you still need proof? Alrighty, then, consider . . .
“Have I not seen Jesus our Lord?” One of the key requirements for being an apostle was to have personally seen and interacted with Jesus in His physical body. Though he was not a disciple of Christ during His earthly ministry, Paul had this experience when the resurrected Christ met him on the road to Damascus.
“Are you not my work in the Lord?” The second criterion of apostleship is the establishment of new churches in previously unreached areas. The very existence of the Corinthian church, then, is testimony to Paul’s true apostleship.
What follows, he may and does address as one who – by their own witness and existence – has been sealed by Christ as an apostle with spiritual leadership over them. Further, if this is not the case and his apostleship and authority is not “in the Lord” then neither are they.
Paul’s seal of approval, given by Christ, authenticates his . . .
MINISTERIAL RIGHTS (vv. 3-14)
The following argument of his ministerial rights is not meant to be complete or exhaustive, but to refer to those that have been specifically questioned by at least some within the church at Corinth.
Part of the problem was that the Corinthian Christians were forming their expectations and judgments of their spiritual leaders and teachers in the same way as they had been taught to do for the philosophers and spiritual teachers so prevalent in their pagan city. e.g. Dr. Phil, Oprah, Dali Lama, Mother Teresa, etc.
In the Greco-Roman world, it was common and expected that philosophers and teachers would make their ’living’ either by charging fees, patronage (the generous endowment from a wealthy benefactor), begging or working. Different groups argued for or against these various options.
It seems that in Corinth, the expected form of compensation for a Christian leader had become that of patronage. Because Paul instead chose to support his ministry himself through his own trade work, some questioned his true apostleship, authority, wisdom and spiritual maturity.
In addition, they challenged these things on the basis that he traveled alone as an unmarried man (likely a widower).
In other words, the attitude was: “If you don’t do these things in just the same way as these others that we have accepted and looked up to, then you must not really be as spiritual or authentic as they are.”
Amazing, isn’t it, how some things never seem to change – even across vast spaces of time and cultural change?
In response to these accusations, Paul specifically addresses what are the true ministerial rights of an apostle of Christ.
a.) Defined (vv. 3-6)
1.) To receive just compensation from the church.
2.) To have a wife with him in the ministry.
3.) Not to have to work outside of the ministry.
b.) Defended (vv. 7-14)
Paul, inspired by the Holy Spirit, continues to demonstrate the absurdity of their judgments and assumptions with another series of rhetorical questions that illustrate the obvious hypocrisy and injustice of what they expect and even demand.