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Summary: Exposition of 1 Corinthians 9 regarding running the Christian life race to win the prize. Do you run to win? Are you in the Christian life to spectate? Is your Christian life just flailing along in laziness, flabbiness, outta shape, and without clear p

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Text: 1 Cor 9:23-27, Title: Olympic Glory, Date/Place: NRBC, 5/15/11, AM

A. Opening illustration: Shoot for an “A” next time…British athletes 10,000 training for Olympics

B. Background to passage: On the heels of his two chapter discussion on the willing limitation of Christian freedom for the sake of other disciples and unbelievers, Paul gives us a wonderful illustration that compels us to consider sporting events and our Christian lives. This illustration here relates to the laying down of the “right” to eat in temples and doing everything for the sake of the gospel, but it is so applicable to the entirety of the Christian’s walk with Christ.

C. Main thought: Do you run to win? Are you in the Christian life to spectate? Is your Christian life just flailing along in laziness, flabbiness, outta shape, and without clear purpose?

A. Motivation (v. 23-25, 27)

1. Paul tells the Corinthians that they must run the Christian life race to win the prize. What is the prize that they should strive (agonize) to obtain? The imperishable crown is that of our inheritance—eternal life—the prize of the race of the Christian life. He later shows that he runs to obtain, but tells them to as though they weren’t (they were flaunting liberty, not focusing on the goal, but on themselves). And herein lies the danger. The first motivation is not Paul’s competitive nature, but eternal life itself. In v. 23 Paul says that he lives the way he does “so that” he could be a partaker in the gospel. Later in v. 27 he says that he doesn’t want to be disqualified (which mean that the judges didn’t think that he had put in the required 10 month training) and cannot run at all. The model here is that of a player-coach, Paul is a coach in that he is constantly calling, encouraging, training, strategizing, and equipping others to get into the ran. He is also a player in that he is already in the race himself. And what is at stake in their agonizing to win the prize is salvation. Now we don’t have a works salvation, so it is not as though Paul must agonize to win the prize to earn or maintain his salvation; but so that his life will display the reality of the transformation. Paul does not think that he may lose his salvation, but that he may not have it to begin with. Paul doesn’t want to be one of those that has run the race in vain, and will hear, “Depart from me…” His training and running hard is evidence of his being on the narrow and difficult path. It shows that Christ is the center of his universe, and the desire of his soul, which is the earmark of the Christian life (not the desire to get out of hell).

2. So in some sense the second motivation is the same as the first, but I want to come at it from a different angle. He says that those who train and run in the Olympic Games do to obtain a laurel wreath that will disintegrate in days, but we some thing that is eternal—Jesus Christ and all that is in Him. So Paul’s motivation is not only a warning about whether or not he truly possesses Christ, but the sheer joy, peace, and satisfaction that comes in Christ.


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