08 May 2022

Olympic Christianity [1Corinthians 9:19-27]


Sports can be a good picture of the Christian life. Paul lifts up the self-control and sacrifices of competitive athletes to be the values all Christians should pursue. Christianity should not be lackadaisical and passive. It should be like an Olympian journey. This sermon on "Olympic Christianity" is a must-know for those who want to find assurance in their Christian life. May you pursue love. May you keep your eye on the prize- the imperishable wreath of glory. May you give every effort to make your calling and election sure.


Sermon Transcript

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I like to first of all wish all mothers here, a very blessed Mother's Day. We love our mothers and we appreciate our mothers, amongst many things, but most of all, I think is the way they sacrifice themselves for the family.

I see that every day in my wife's life. My children may not understand it all the time, and may not get it fully, perhaps at this stage of their lives, but I see that every day. So, I'm really thankful to my wife for all the sacrifice that she has made for our children and for our family, and I think I could speak the same for many of you in your families.

And that's what love is all about. Love is about sacrifice. It's not just about the feeling, it's about giving, it's about sacrifice. And maybe that's a good segue to think about what Christianity is all about. Christianity is about love. Christianity is about sacrifice.

And the apostle Paul, the author of the book of Corinthians is also a man who lives out a life of sacrifice. We last stopped in 1st Corinthians, chapter 9 and verse 19. That was what we ended or paused last week and we continue from here.

Paul says, "For though I'm free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them." [1 Cor 9:19]

Paul was not obligated to any man. He did not come under employment of men, he did not need the support of men. He was free from all, but he deliberately, intentionally, willingly made himself a servant to all.

In a sense, that he would not take support from the church, from the people. He would not want to be having anyone doubt his motive for preaching, and therefore he preached the Gospel free of charge, that's what he said. So that, there will be no way anyone would confuse the message of the Gospel, as a message to make himself rich.

He did all that, he gave up his rights for support, so that, "He might win more of them." [1 Cor 9:19]

He wanted to save many more people to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. In fact, this idea of winning, of gaining people into the Kingdom is so predominant that he repeated this over and over again, in the first four verses.

"I made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them. To the Jews I became as a Jew in order to win Jews. I became one under the law to win those under the law. I became as one outside the law to win those outside the law. To the weak, I became weak that I might win the weak. [1 Cor 9:19-22]

So you got to get his repeated emphasis. "The reason why I would give up the rights to receive support, I would preach free of charge is because I've made myself a servant to you. I want to do my very best to reach more of you with the Gospel."

And so he concludes, "I am willing to be all things to all people that by, that by all means I might save some]" [1 Cor 9:22] So that's the heart of Paul, you might say like a mother, willing to sacrifice himself, his rights, his comforts, his pleasures, his ease, so that he might be able to save more.

We look a little bit more closely at what Paul is saying here. "To the Jews, I became as a Jew, in order to when Jews ..." [1 Cor 9:20]

But you say, "Paul is already a Jew! Why does he say that he becomes a Jew?" Well, he clarifies it further, "... to those under the law I became as one under the law." He's saying, "To the Jews who are very fixated perhaps, very concerned about the laws, the ceremonial laws, the rituals of the Jewish faith or the nation, I also became someone who will obey those rules and rituals and ceremonies."

But he's careful to say, "... though, not being myself under the law." Now you say, "Wah, this Paul ah, speak in riddles very complicated!" Well, he's just saying, "I make myself willing to participate in some of the rites and rituals." For example, in the book of Acts, he would perform the Nazarite vow because after that, he shaved his head or hair. He will get Timothy to go through circumcision, even though there was no need to.

So he says, "I would go through these rituals, these rites even though I know that I am not under the rules and rituals, in order to gain a right standing with God. I'm not under the law as a means of salvation. I know I'm saved by the grace of God in Jesus Christ. Nevertheless, to the Jews, I participated in the rites like a Jew. To those who are under the law, I participated in the rites as under the law, not to get myself saved, but so that, "... I might win those who are under the law." [1 Cor 9:20]

So Paul is saying, "I'm becoming in behavior, in the participation of rituals like the Jews, so that I can reach the Jews." He did not just say this for the Jews, he also said this with regard to the Gentiles. The Gentile are non-Jews, people like you and me, in general.

So he says, "To those who are outside the law ..." [1 Cor 9:21] that's a phrase to describe the Gentiles, "... I became as one outside the law." "I'm a Jew, huh, by upbringing, by birth, but I'm willing to adapt myself to behave like the Gentiles." "... but I'm not outside the law of God, but under the law of Christ."

What Paul is saying here is, "Even though I want to be like the Gentiles in their behavior, in their customs, in their practices, perhaps, for example, in the realm of eating." He says, "Even though I'll do all that, I will not be a lawless person, I'm not an antinomian." That's a word that means anti-law.

"I'm not against the law of God. It's not wrong to follow the law of God. But I would be willing to adapt myself to Gentile customs. I still fulfill the law, in a sense of living out the life of love, that's the law of Christ, so that, "... I might win those outside the law." [1 Cor 9:21]

So he was willing to adapt his behavior, his practice to the Gentiles to reach the Gentiles. He goes on to say, "To the weak, I became weak that I might win the weak." [1 Cor 9:22]

Now, who are the weak here? You might think of those as people who are social, economically impoverished, people who are despised in life. Maybe that's the idea of weak here, but a more appropriate idea of weak perhaps would be those whose consciences are weak, because that's the context in 1st Corinthians 8.

So Paul says, "To those whose conscience is weak, they're very troubled when they see you eat in the idol's temple, then I become like the weak. I would not act as if I have all knowledge and continue to eat food offered to idols, even though I know it's nothing. But I'll become like the weak, so that I would not stumble the weak, so that I might reach the weak, so that there will be no barrier, there would be no cause for them to be falling into sin as a result of my behavior."

So Paul says, "This is my philosophy." "I've become all things, to all people that by all means, I might save some." [1 Cor 9:22]

When I got saved at 18 years old, I desired to read more about the Christian faith. And I understood that not only should I read the Bible, I should also read about some stories of faith in maybe more modern times, read some biographies. I don't read a lot of biographies after a while, but there was one biography that really stuck to my mind and even up to today. And I would encourage you, if you've never read the biography of Hudson Taylor, that you should really try to read one as soon as you can.

This is a picture of Hudson Taylor, very interesting picture, an ang moh [Hokkien], if you may put it that way. A Caucasian man, who will dress up as a Chinaman because God laid a burden upon his heart, to call him to preach the Gospel in China. I would say in modern missions history, his ministry is perhaps one of the most, if not the most influential in bringing the Gospel to the Chinese people.

It's called the "China Inland Missions". And Hudson Taylor was an amazing example of all things to all men. Well, you could see from the dress code he adapted the Chinese way of dressing. He would shave his hair, you know, the front part must be shaven ah. For those who are losing hair, this is a good excuse, you don't look so weird. But he shaved his front part of the hair, kept the ponytail, dressed in Chinese attire. He would learn the Chinese language and he would suffer a lot of inconveniences.

But he was clear, that in order to reach the people in China, he could not go in as a typical Englishman, but he had to be all things to all men. He had rights to dress as an Englishman. He had rights to eat Caucasian food. He had rights to keep speaking English, but he gave up all those rights. So that like Paul, he could be a servant to all, that by all means he might save some.

He said, "China is not to be won for Christ by quiet, ease-loving men and women ... The stamp of men and women we need is such as will put Jesus, China [and] souls first and foremost in everything and at every time — even life itself must be secondary." That's I think, the spirit of being all things to all men.

Speaking about China, we had people from China, who would come to Singapore to work as construction workers. This story is familiar to many old timers, here in Gospel Light. I can't remember how long ago, maybe about 20 years ago. We had and I think almost supernatural amazing story of how we got in touch with one Chinese construction worker.

And from then on we had a beautiful season of reaching Chinese construction workers. These men that we have been able to be privileged to serve in our building at 360, Dunearn Road. For some of you, who do not know, we do have another venue, 360 Dunearn Road, this is a picture of it. You can see pastor Chee Kin there, we were having a service then, weekly in the ... in the evenings, on Sundays to reach out to Chinese construction workers.

But what's cool is that we remember those days where we tried our very best to be like the Chinese people, in that we had food that was Chinese style. I remember, the cooking team would not cook Singaporean food. That will be terrible, right, if you cook Nasi Briyani for the Chinese construction workers, they would not take it! But I think they really tried their best to come up with a most Chinese menu, on a weekly basis.

We would celebrate simple festivals days with them. This is a picture of you could guess? Christmas? No! Mid autumn festival, right. You can see the lanterns, the full moon at the back. Remember we would have them come in and we would share the Gospel of course in Mandarin and ... it's a ministry that we have seen fruit, we have seen people come to faith in Jesus Christ. And you ... we can't reach them if we stick to what we are used to.

"All things to all men" is the philosophy of Paul and he was willing to give up his rights, give up his conveniences, in order to do so. I think so far you would be quite comfortable with what Paul is saying, verses 19 to 22, not difficult idea here — "I want to reach people for the Gospel sake, I want to reach people so that they will be saved. And in order to do so, there will be personal sacrifices that would be needed."

But what's next may be a bit harder to chew or to digest, because Paul says in verse 23, "I do it all for the sake of the Gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings." Now, if you look at the original Greek, there is no, "in its blessings". In other words, literally, Paul is saying, "I do it all for the sake of the Gospel that I may be a joint-sharer in it, that I may be a partaker of the Gospel."

What Paul is saying here is, "I sacrifice it all. I ... I sacrifice my rights. I become a servant to all, so that I can be a part or I can be a joint-sharer in the Gospel." Now, that becomes difficult for a lot of people, because that sounds like Paul is saying, "I get to be a part or I get to enjoy the Gospel, I get to receive the benefits of the Gospel, I get to be a joint-partaker of it, if I continue to serve people and sacrifice my rights."

Because that sounds like Paul is saying, you earn your place in the Gospel by your sacrifice. It sounds like Paul is teaching salvation by works. It sounds like Paul is saying, he deserved heaven because he was willing to sacrifice it all here. And I can understand why it would be difficult for people to accept this, but follow me if you can.

Paul is not here saying that he earns salvation by works, because that will be contrary to everything else he has written. But Paul is saying that the mark, that the genuine mark of those who are really part of the Gospel is that they are willing to sacrifice, and they will sacrifice.

Remember, we started this whole exploration of food offered to idols in chapter 8. And right at the beginning, Paul says, "But if anyone loves God, he's known by God." [1 Cor 8:3] Paul is prefacing the whole discussion of this subject by saying that the mark of the child of God is that he loves.

That's the distinctiveness of the Christian life, not the fact that you can spew theology, not the fact that you can quote a lot of doctrines. But the fact that you are a man who loves and we understand love is about sacrifice.

So Paul is saying here, "I do it all for the sake of the Gospel that we may share in the Gospel." [1 Cor 9:23] Not that he earns salvation, but he evidences salvation. Not that sacrifice is the means to salvation, but it's the manifestation of salvation. Not that he deserves salvation, but he is differentiated in salvation by his love.

Now, this is corroborated when we jump ahead to verse 27. Now, verse 24 to 27, there's ... there's an example, there's an illustration. So I ... I think we can jump ahead to verse 27. I just see that this idea is consistent when Paul says, "I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others, I myself should be disqualified."

The word, 'disqualified' here is a word that means to be rejected, to be a cast away. It's a word that is repeated in 2nd Corinthians 13, where in the ESV, it is translated, "fail the test". And in that context, it's referring to someone who does not have the presence of Christ in his life. So Paul here is saying, "I do not want to be someone who is preaching the Gospel, but end up as someone who is actually outside of Christ."

Again, he's not saying that you will lose salvation, or that you earn salvation by your works, but you manifest your true state, by your love or the lack of love. And he actually goes on in chapter 10:12 to describe the nation of Israel, and he ... and he says that, "Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands, take heed lest he fall."

So there is a potential of falling away from Christ, even though at this stage you look like a Christian. He's ... he's talking about Israel, they look like followers of God, but in the way they live, in the way they sin against God, they proved themselves not to be believers in the first place.

So, Paul is warning against a certain complacency. Now, please again, don't get me wrong, don't get the Bible wrong. The Bible teaches eternal security. What do you mean by that? It means once you are truly saved in Christ, you are always saved. Let me say that again-Once truly saved, always saved. However, the question is - How do you know if you're truly saved?

Because on the day of salvation, God did not send a rubber stamp to chop your head and say, "Christian". Well, if that was to take place, then we won't have this concern about our fruit and so on. But because God never did that, he's telling us that the evidence, the proof of a man's true salvation is not what he says, how he raised his hands, but the way he lives his life. Is there the fruit of love?

So, Paul says, "You've got to be vigilant, you cannot be complacent about this." You cannot assume that, "Oh, because I said I believe in Jesus, I can live any way I want!" Paul says, "No, no, no, no, no, no, I will not be complacent! I will be diligent, I'll put every effort to make sure that I am not disqualified."

So, we come back to this. Paul says, "Why would I sacrifice? Why would I give my ... give up my rights? I have rights! I have knowledge! You guys are saying you have rights, you have knowledge, but I would choose to give up my rights to be a servant to all. Why? So that more souls can be saved, so that none will be stumbled because of me. And also because I give up my rights, so that I may endure and work out my salvation in a ... in a long way, in a enduring way, so that I do not prove myself to be a hypocrite, a sham, but that I am a true follower of Jesus Christ."

Now, maybe the following illustration may help you, and this illustration is given by Paul. Paul now shifts to an athletic sports illustration. I know that because he uses the words — run, athlete, run, box. There is no question in the minds of commentators that Paul is referring to a certain sports event in Corinth.

It's called, "The Isthmian Games" based on the word, 'Isthmus'. Corinth, there is a Isthmus there, and so that games is called "The Isthmian Games". It's rather appropriate because we are going to have what games soon? SEA Games. SEA Games takes place once in two years, and "The Isthmian Games" takes place also once in two years. This is secondary to the Olympics, Olympics is the ultimate games, this is second ... second to it.

But Paul is probably referring to "The Isthmian Games", where there are many events, some of which is running. I mean, that has been a time-honored sports and also wrestling, boxing. And so, when he talks about "run, box, athlete", he's talking about something familiar, something known to the Corinthians. And he's saying that the Christian life is like an athlete's life. What do you mean by that? Well, a Christian life is like a competitive athlete's life, in that you must exercise self-control. There must be self-restraint!

An athlete is successful not just because he can run very fast during the 100 meters race. No one is born to run 9.76 seconds, you've got to train very hard, in order to run 100 meters in 9 ... is it 9.76, the world record or 9.64? 9.87? Anyhow, say one! Huh, huh, huh, huh, huh, huh! I can't remember now, but I think it's 9.64, if I'm not wrong. None of us can be born into this world and immediately run 9.64! You ... you've got to train real hard, and you've got to exercise self-control. You've got to be controlled for many years before the 9.64 seconds event, isn't it?

We think about the greatest Olympian of all time, Michael Phelps. 23 gold medals in the Olympics, 28 Medals overall, not to count the many other accolades he has won in life. How does Michael Phelps become Michael Phelps, the swimmer? Just dive into the water and swim? Oh no! There are plenty of? What's the word you would use? Training. What other words would you use? Sacrifice.

He said this, "A lot of it is the work you do every day and the sacrifices that you make ..." I think that's a really big word, a big key word. "... Growing up in high school, I wasn't hanging out with my friends every day or on the weekends. Doing normal high-school things was something I was willing to give up."

Well, if you have read about his life, he will eat 12,000 calories diet every day. You know how much you need everyday for yourself, normal people? I think about 2000, right? Of course, most of us eat more than that, but 2000 is all that you need. But he eats 12,000 calories worth, six times your amount! I don't think is that enjoyable, he eats it because he has to. He needs all that energy to fuel his exercise everyday.

He swims every day, if I'm not wrong, he swims every day, literally, Christmas, New Year, he had to swim. There's no break for his training! He has to have I think eight to nine hours sleep enforced, he can't do less than that if he's to perform at his peak. And there are countless hours he had to spend in the gym and in the pool.

Well, these 23 gold medals are not going to be his, if he's not willing to put in the work, if he's not willing to put in the ex ... the sacrifice. "... If you want to be the best, you have to do things others aren't willing to do." [Michael Phelps]

So Paul says, "This attitude of doing your best in sacrifice, in self-control is something you can observe in the athletes in "The Ithmian Games", and that's the same attitude and spirit for the Christian." The Christian man or woman is not someone who says, "I want comfort and ease. I want everything done my way." The mark of the Christian is that he lives like an Olympian. He's willing to put in the work, the sacrifice because he's also like the Olympian, looking towards the prize.

So he says here, "Do you not know that in ... that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it." [1 Cor 9:24] He's ... he's talking about, not so much you and I competing against each other, but he's talking about the great effort needed for every single athlete. And so, he's saying that there's great effort needed for every single Christian, that we must have that same posture, willingness to sacrifice, to work hard, like the Olympians.

"Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath ..." [1 Cor 9:25] You know, those leaves that you plaid together to put as a crown on the victor. He says, "But we all look for that wreath, that glorious crown of life, that hope of eternal life that is to come. And you don't win it, if you have a laid back, self-centered, pleasure loving posture in life."

"So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air." [1 Cor 9:26] So he says, "I keep my eye on the prize. I'm very focused. I do not lose sight of what I'm living for. Like an athlete, I do not anyhow run, huh, I do not anyhow box. I'm very clear why I run, who I box against.

"But I discipline my body and keep it under control lest after preaching to others, I myself should be disqualified." [1 Cor 9:27] The word, 'discipline' is a very interesting word. The word here literally means to give you a blue-black.

In Singapore terms, give you 'orr cheh' [Hokkien dialect]. "I purposely 'orr cheh' myself." Well, the idea here is that he would subjugate his body, he will not be willing to allow himself to be given over to bodily appetites, to pleasures, to comfort and ease. Like an athlete, he wants to, "Keep his body under control." [1 Cor 9:27]

Michael Phelps must hear his body scream to him, "It's time for you to take a break!" Michael Phelps must hear his body scream to him, "Don't train so hard, your muscles are aching!" But Michael Phelps must bring his body under control, he must literally blue-black his body.

And the Christian man does the same, he is not given over to his bodily appetites, he is not ruled by what his flesh desires. But there's a certain discipline, there's a certain self-restraint, there's a certain sacrifice, there's a certain giving up of rights. Because his eye is on the prize, he knows that the true follower of Jesus Christ is not someone given to over to these pleasures and lust, but someone who presses on towards the high calling of Jesus.

And this is not just about eternal rewards, like a bonus, this is about your eternal security. Again, I'm not saying that you earn your place in heaven by your sacrifice. I'm not saying you deserve heaven by your sacrifice, but I'm saying that if you're not someone who demonstrates this in your life, perhaps you will never born again. Because someone who is saved is someone who is given a new heart and it will be a heart that is willing to love and give up for others.

So in summary, let me just conclude this by highlighting the various verses we have looked at. Paul says, "I give up my rights. I won't be paid. The reason is because I love you, I love the people God has called me to preach to. So I make myself a servant to all, that there will be no obstacles in their minds that I may win more. But I'm doing it not just because I love souls, that I do, but I'm doing it also because I want to be clear that I'm a joint-sharer in the Gospel. I do not want to be complacent. I do not want to be someone who preaches and at the end of the day, become a disqualified man."

"So I keep my eye on the prize, I exercise self-control. I'm willing to give up these things, because I'm looking forward to that imperishable crown, very much like the athletes do. And so I discipline my body, I will not be given over to my bodily appetites. It's probably easier to sleep, it's probably easier to be at ease, it's probably easier to live a comfortable life but I refuse to, lest I become a castaway."

The last question I want to explore with you is - Why? Why talk about this in 1st Corinthians, chapter 9?

For those who are new it might be a bit weird, but for those who have been with us for the past two, three weeks you would understand that this happens in the context of food or eating food offered to idols. There were people in the church, who felt that eating food offered to the idols is nothing and therefore because they know it is nothing, they freely go to the idol's temple and eat these foods.

But Paul says, "Not everyone thinks like you. There are other people who when they see you eat food offered to idols in idol's temples, they would be tempted to eat like you do, but because their conscience is weak, their convictions are not really integrated in their hearts, they may eat of it and then be drawn or be tempted to be drawn back to idolatry. And in that way, they fall."

So Paul is saying, "Guys, you have knowledge but don't act like that, act in love, sacrifice your rights to eat food offered to idols, for the sake of others." So the Corinthians have this problem they say, "We have rights, we possess knowledge, we have the right!" But this kind of thinking is arrogant, is puffed up because all it leads to is the stumbling of the faith of others.

Paul, on the other hand, is saying, "I know my rights, I have a right to receive support from you, but I waive my rights, I would give it all up! I will be a humble slave to people. My goal is so that, I can win more to Christ." This is a sharp contrast between selfish pride and humble love. And Paul says, "I give up my rights so that souls are saved not stumbled, so that my salvation is sure and not uncertain."

So this really will culminate, we start with chapter 8, but I did tell you right from the beginning, that it will really go all the way to chapter 14, where Paul says, "You've got to pursue love." [1 Cor 14:1]

As a Christian, this is not a bonus, I'm not ... this is not a passage for special Christians, super on-the-ball Christians, pastors, elders, deacons, this is something for every single follower of Jesus Christ. Pursue love, because the souls of others are at stake and your own salvation is at stake.

Now, I ... I do understand our church a bit and I do understand that there will be some kind of uncertainty and resistance as to, "Pastor, are you sure that we are to keep loving in order to be sure we are in the faith? I thought it is just believe in Jesus and you'll be saved."

I say to you, "Yes, if you repent of your sin and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, you are saved. But how do you know if you've truly repented and if you truly believed? Because a lot of people say they believe without really understanding what they're supposed to believe."

So, there must be that necessary outworking of your faith. There must be that evidence of salvation, there must be the fruit. That's, I think what the Bible teaches regarding assurance of salvation. It is not based on your profession, the assurance of salvation comes with the change in your life. And the Bible actually calls Christians to make every effort to evidence these changes.

Let me show that to you. Peter, not Paul, Peter, he says, "For this very reason, make every effort ..." [2 Peter 1:5] You can't get clearer than that about effortful Christian living! There are some preachers today who say, "Christian living should be easy, effortless." Well, I will say that we never earn salvation, but the Bible does not take away effort. We don't earn, but we must put in great effort. This is one verse that says so.

Another verse is, you have to ... "As God works in you, you have to work out your salvation." That's work! That's effort! There's no such thing as effortless Christian living folks. Yes, it's grace-empowered, but it is also effortful.

So Peter still, here says, "For this very reason, make every effort ..." To do what? "... To supplement your faith with virtue, virtue with knowledge, knowledge with self-control, self-control with steadfastness, steadfastness with godliness, godliness with brotherly affection, brotherly affection with love." [2 Peter 1:5-7] Make every effort to manifest these qualities.

Now on one hand, these qualities can only be produced by God, especially if you look at some of the words here, they are the fruit of the Spirit, Galatians 5. But even though it is the work of the Spirit, the fruit of the Spirit, it requires the necessary participation of man. The source is the Spirit, but the outworking, that responsibility is given to us. So we are to live our lives of virtue, knowledge, self-control, steadfastness, love. We are to manifest these things.

And as we obey God in manifesting these things, making every effort to supplement to our faith these things, Paul says in verse 10, "Be all ..." not Paul, Peter, he says, "Be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities, you will never fall." [2 Peter 1:10]

You see that? There's no place for that presumption! "Oh, I said a sinners prayer 20 years ago, doesn't matter how I live my life, I must be going to heaven." That's not the mindset of the apostolic writers. Very clear — once truly saved, always saved, but those who are truly saved will add to these things, make every effort to make their calling and election sure, that they will persevere to the end.

Hebrews, very difficult book for a lot of people, but actually the message is quite clear. Hebrews, the author says, "For if we go on sinning deliberately ..." [Heb 10:26] Now, if you say, "I'm ... I ... I made my ... my pledge of faith, I said the sinners prayer 20 years ago, but I'm now sleeping with another woman, I'm cheating on my business partners. Doesn't matter I said my sinners prayer, right? God saves me right?"

Well, the author says, "If you go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins but a fearful expectation of judgment and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries." [Heb 10:26-27]

You are not God's child! You're His adversary, you're his enemy. You're one of those, Jesus said, "On the last day you will say, "Lord, did not we do, do, do, do, do, do, do, do these things?"' And He will say to you, "Depart from Me, you workers of iniquity, I never knew you." "But I have said the sinner's prayer?" You thought you believed, but you aren't! And that can be proven from the way you lived your life."

So don't do this, instead, remember this, remember the marks of faith in your life. "You had compassion on those in prison ..." It's about love! "Look at your compassion on those in prison, you joyfully accepted the plundering of your property." [Heb 10:3-4] Not that you welcome robbers into your house, but that you were willing to even be taken advantage of, as you help others or you're willing to empty your coffers, in order to help other.

"Because you knew, your eye was on the prize." "Therefore, do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you have need of endurance, that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what is promised." [Heb 10:35-36]

The Bible is not teaching salvation by works, but the Bible is teaching assurance in your works. That's a big difference there!

Final verse, "He will render to each one according to his works." [Rom 2:6-8] You know, on the Day of Judgment, God's judgment will be according to your works. "But ... but pastor, I thought it's according to my faith?" Yes, it's according to your faith, but it is a faith that produces works.

Therefore on the Day of Judgment, God will judge very objectively based on works. If you have faith, you will have works. If you have no faith, no works, but He will judge you according to your works. "To those who by patience, in well-doing, seeking glory, honor and immortality ..." [Rom 2:6-8]
These are people who in their whole life, had their eyes on the prize. They were looking for glory and honor and immortality in their life to come, therefore, their whole life is in patience, doing good. "... To such people, God will give eternal life."

To such people who run like the athletes in the Isthmian Games, who sacrificed, who practices discipline, give up their rights, God gives eternal life. "But for those who are self-seeking ..." Look at how consistent scriptural teaching is! "But those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury." [Rom 2:8]

My friend, what's at stake here is not about extra rewards in heaven, Paul is raising the stakes, it's about your eternal life. There are two postures you can adopt in life, one of selfish pride or one of humble love. Many things are at stake - One, souls of people are at stake, by the way you live. And two, your very own soul is at stake, by the way you live. So, this is the admonition from Paul - Pursue love. [1 Cor 14:1]

We'll learn more of that, but I want to tell you the word, 'pursue' here, is to persecute, is to chase after, is to really hunt after love. Yes, love is the fruit of the Spirit, but let us on our part, by His enabling, chase love, desire love. As we gather as a church, let us live out lives of love, always hunting for opportunities to love and serve one another. Because in so doing, you help others to Christ, and in so doing you endure to the day He gives you eternal life.

I know it's technical, complicated to some degree, but if you are lost, I hope you will go back, check out the YouTube again, and make these things sure. I don't think there's a more important message than something like this.

Let's bow for a word of prayer together.

We celebrate Mother's Day, because our mothers love us, love our children and they sacrifice. The apostle Paul sacrificed and that is the mark of the Christian man. He will sacrifice, he will give up his rights for the sake of others, and for the sake of manifesting the fruit of salvation in his life.

Christianity is about love, it's about sacrifice, it's not wanting my way, but doing God's will. And isn't this what Jesus our Lord and Savior did? He loved us. How do we know that? He gave up His glories, and was born as a man, so that He might suffer and die to save you from your sin.

If you're here today, as a follower of Jesus, can I caution you against a lackadaisical, self-pleasing, lazy, complacent way of life, because that is a dangerous way to live. Make every effort, my brothers and sisters to supplement to your faith — virtue, knowledge, self-control, brotherly kindness, love. Because if you practice these things, you make your calling and election sure, and you will never fall. Do not go on sinning deliberately, but live out lives of compassion and love to others, because if you do well, you will be saved. Oh yes, we rest on the finished work of Jesus Christ, but the man who comes to know Jesus Christ, will manifest these things and be assured by these things about his faith!

If you're here today and you do not know Jesus, the message of the Bible is a message of sacrifice - God gave His Son to save you from your sin. Would you come and believe upon Him?

So Father, thank You again for this morning that we can hear Your Word, and we pray that You bless each and every one of us. I pray Gospelighters will not succumb to the philosophies of this world, but we will make every effort, like the athlete in the games, keeping our eye on the prize, practice consistent self-control, that we might arrive at the podium one day and hear You say, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant."

We pray for the salvation of friends and guests who are gathered here. Please bless them that they will know Your love and the sacrifice of Your Son. Thank You, we pray all this in Jesus' Name. Amen.

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