Summary: EPIPHANY 2(B) - Belivers share (in) God’s blessings by freely preaching and being freed to serve.
BELIEVERS SHARE (IN) GOD’S BLESSINGS (Outline)
1 CORINTHIANS 9:16-23 - January 16, 2005 - EPIPHANY 2
INTRO: People, in general, like to share. Believers love to share. God has shown us his divine bless-ings – physical and spiritual – that we may show them and share them with others. We share in times of joy and times of sadness with one another. We share in gifts of thanksgiving with praise and worship. The miracle of miracles is that Lord God shares eternity with us and makes us partakers of heaven itself. Our gracious God does this in spite of our wickedness, rebellion, and sin. "This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus"(EPHESIANS 3:6). Today we study that mystery of salvation we have been made believers to dwell in the light of the knowledge of God. BELIEVERS SHARE (IN) GOD’S BLESSINGS. We are able to do this by: I. Freely preaching and being II. Freed for service.
I. FREELY PREACHING
A. The apostle Paul had very vividly seen the power of God to change men’s hearts and lives.
1. Paul had been a persecutor of those who followed the Way. But God had changed all that.
2. On the way to Damascus God miraculously called him into service. Verse 16 begins our text.
B. Paul was now compelled to preach about Jesus, the Way – instead of persecuting his followers.
1. God had changed Paul’s heart and life so that he could not help but do what the Lord wanted.
2. Paul did all of this with no reward. Verse 17. God entrusted to Paul the free gospel message.
C. But there was a reward for Paul. This reward was not measured as the world measures rewards.
1. Rather, Paul’s reward was to offer the simple gospel message free of charge. Verse 18.
2. Paul felt this was a great privilege though he often was met with persecution and beatings.
D. This free message of God’s gospel has not changed over the centuries. Some might feel that they need a miraculous experience to signal the great change of conversion in their lives. Not all, in fact, not many, are changed so visibly as the Apostle Paul was changed. Yet, becoming a believer is one of the Lord’s greatest miracles. We are told how this takes place. "I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile" (RO-MANS 1:14). God’s gospel in word and sacrament quickly converts callous hearts into hearts of faith.
E. Purely out divine mercy and free grace our heavenly Father shares this blessing of believing with the human race who brought imperfection into God’s once perfect world. From that first sin Satan has had a grip on the human race. But the Lord God Almighty is far stronger than the devil. God has not destined mankind for eternal destruction but wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. This happens by means of believers in a sin-filled world. "But you are a chosen people, a royal priest-hood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light"(1 PETER 2:9). Take time to reread those titles God gives us.
F. We look at Paul and admire his courage and bold confession. As believers we are to continue to grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord. Each day we can reflect on the blessings and promises God pro-vides to and for us. We are filled with wonder at the awesome gifts our gracious God freely gives! Our response is thankfulness. Out of thankfulness we freely preach God’s gospel to those who still sit in darkness. Like Paul, like the prophets we cannot help ourselves. "But if I say, ’I will not mention him or speak any more in his name,’ his word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot"(JEREMIAH 20:9).
TRANS: BELIEVERS SHARE (IN) GOD’S BLESSINGS as they freely preach God’s gospel. As be-lievers no longer held in the grip of Satan, sin, and death we are: II. Freed for service.
II. FREED FOR SERVICE
A. Paul realized the freedom that was now his. He was no longer held hostage by the law.
1. The apostle Paul was going to use that gospel freedom to win others. Verse 19.
2. Others who were still slaves to sin would soon learn about the freedom of the gospel.
B. Paul was freed for service to do whatever it might take to bring others under God’s kingdom blessings.