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All Things To All People, But Only One Gospel (1 Cor 9:16-23, Ps 58:1-5)

On Sunday I had the privilege of teaching the flock.

Topic was All Things To All People, But Only One Gospel’.

Audio is here, sermon notes below.


When Jarryd asked me to teach this morning, he did ask me whether I wanted to carry on in 1 Corinthians where he left off. But I said that he was on a roll with it, and I didn’t want to stop his momentum.
So, he said ‘why don’t you springboard from where I left off, and do something evangelistic’. Me do something evangelistic? Never!
But if you remember from last week, one of the themes that Jarryd pulled was that Paul was making this claim: that his freedom in Christ gave him the right to become all things to all people. So let’s read the last portion of this, and we’ll go from there:
1 Corinthians 9:16-23 (NKJV)
For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for necessity is laid upon me; yes, woe is me if I do not preach the gospel!  For if I do this willingly, I have a reward; but if against my will, I have been entrusted with a stewardship.
What is my reward then? That when I preach the gospel, I may present the gospel of Christ without charge, that I may not abuse my authority in the gospel.  For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win the more; and to the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might win Jews; to those who are under the law, as under the law, that I might win those who are under the law; to those who are without law, as without law (not being without law toward God, but under law toward Christ), that I might win those who are without law; to the weak I became as weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.
Now this I do for the gospel’s sake, that I may be partaker of it with you.
So Paul tells us in verse 19 ‘though I am free from all men, I have made myself a servant to all’.
And what makes him free? Well, the Gospel does. See verse 16 ‘for if I preach the Gospel, I have nothing to boast of’. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the great humbler to those that speak it and believe it.
And, as Christians, we know that when we are humbled, that is when Christ does his greatest work – both in us, and through us.
And so, we are strengthened to, as in
verse 20 – ‘to the Jews I became as a Jew’. Why? To win Jews.
‘To those under the law, as under the law’. Why? To win those under the law.
Verse 21 – ‘those as without law, as without law’. Why? To win those without the law.
Verse 22 – ‘the weak I became as weak’. Why? To win the weak.
Paul has not just given us a commission to go out – he’s also telling us that wherever we go, in every facet of our little ‘world’ in which we move around in, there will always be people to win.
Sinners aren’t faceless zombies that follow you about, calling out ‘I’m a sinner, please come and save me!’. Well, not in the literal sense, anyway. Sometime you can spot them a mile off.
But mostly, they are non-descript. They are less obvious to spot. They infiltrate every facet of your world.
And they all need just one thing – the never-changing Gospel that frees them from sin and death.
And when you see people in this light, you realise that in reality, there is only two camps of people in this world: Sinners, and those that are saved from sin. And as Paul says, that freedom gives us great confidence when we share the Gospel, because it’s the same Gospel that saves all.
Today I’m coming from the angle of ‘there is only one type of sinner’, and therefore that means everybody only needs ‘one type of message’. Maybe different types of delivery, but ultimately the same message to deliver.
For an example, most of you would be familiar with the incident recently regarding Israel Folau. For those who don’t know who Israel Folau is, he represents New South Wales and the Australian national team in rugby union.
Israel Folau has openly admitted he is a Christian.
And a couple of weeks ago someone asked him a question on one of the social media platforms ‘what is God’s plan for gays when they die?’ To which he replied ‘HELL if they don’t repent’.
Now, was he telling the truth? Well, we would all say that yes, he was. 1 Cor 6:9-10 tells us that homosexuals will not inherit the kingdom of God:
Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortionists will inherit the kingdom of God.
Was this the best way of getting the message across? Some might say ‘yeah, give it to them straight between the eyes and don’t hold back!’.
Some would say ‘that wasn’t very loving!’.
Part of me thinks the whole thing was a stitch-up anyway, to draw him out and stir up trouble – therefore it didn’t matter what he said. He would be tagged a homophobe either way.
What would I have done? Well, I would have erred more to the first one, but somewhat closer to in the middle. Given them a poke in the eye, but lovingly…
‘What do you think happens after we die? Do you think there’s a heaven? Do you think you will get there? Why? Oh, you’re a good person. Can I test that out? How many lies have you told in your life? Oh, that many. What do you call someone who tells lies? A liar? Have you ever looked at another person with lust? Yes? That’s called adultery of the heart. The Bible says all sexually immoral and liars will have their part in a lake of fire (Rev 21:8). Does that concern you? It does? Well, did you know that God did something so that you didn’t have to go to hell?. Do you know what that was? Yes?…’
And then I would tell them what Christ did for them. And I always try and steer conversations like this in this direction. Why? Because it’s the best way I know of for getting to the Gospel quicker, and lovingly. And it’s the only way of I can think of being ‘all things to all people’, without changing the message.
And if the person had given up halfway through, or walked away, I would have known they either weren’t interested in the first place or couldn’t handle where the conversation was going.
Showing Real Love
If you see a person stumbling blindingly toward a cliff with a thousand-foot drop, but do nothing to save them, that’s not love. Love is yelling out ‘Stop! There’s a cliff in front of you, and if you keep going that way, you’ll end up going over! You need to turn around and go the other way!’.
Or, if you’re walking past a house at night that’s on fire, and you knew everyone inside was sleeping, you wouldn’t just sneak up, tap on the window and whisper ‘Excuse me. Sorry to disturb your peaceful sleep, but you might like to come outside right now’. That’s not loving them. No, you would grab a brick or something solid and smash a window, or kick the front door in, and scream ‘The house is on fire! Get out now, or you’ll burn to death!’ (Comfort).
As Christians, we should never be ashamed of sharing the Gospel. Especially if we are asked about it. We have the key to the power of God unto salvation (Romans 1:16).
 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.
And I like what one commentator once said, comparing it with baseball:
Out of the park:
“When someone asks you about God, that’s what they call in the game a ‘lob’. And if you can’t hit it a lob out of the park, you don’t deserve to be in the game’ (MacArthur).
So, we always try to take every opportunity available to us. And the delivery to each person may be different, but each sinner just needs to hear one Gospel. We may tone down our approach depending on the listener, but we never, ever tone down the Gospel.
And that is the freedom that Paul was referring to. Knowing that the same one Gospel saves everybody, gives him freedom to share that Gospel with everybody, albeit using different means in which to get the message across.
So, in knowing that there is only one type of sinner, and one type of Gospel that the sinner needs to hear, we are going to turn to Psalm 58.
And you’re probably thinking ‘that’s an interesting Psalm to go to’.
Psalm 58 is an imprecatory Psalm, meaning it was written for the intention to invoke God to pour out wrath or calamity against His enemies. Normally they go something like this:
You wicked person, you do this, and you do that!
Then the petition to God ‘look what they’re doing to your people, Lord, please deal to them’
Then it usually ends with a flick in the tail, something like ‘Nyah, nyah nyah, better look out, God’s gonna smash ya!’
In the context of Psalm 58, it was against the tyranny of the rulers and judges at the time.  
But it gives us a great insight into the mind and heart of every sinner.
So, let’s read. We will focus on the first 5 verses, but I’ll read out the whole Psalm.
 Psalm 58:1-11 (NKJV)

The first 5 verses that we will focus on talk about the
Practice of the Wicked (1-5)
Do you indeed speak righteousness, you silent ones? Do you judge uprightly, you sons of men? No, in heart you work wickedness; you weigh out the violence of your hands in the earth.
The wicked are estranged from the womb; They go astray as soon as they are born, speaking lies.
Their poison is like the poison of a serpent; They are like the deaf cobra that stops its ear, which will not heed the voice of charmers, charming ever so skilfully.

Next, from verses 6-8, it speaks of David’s
Petition about the Wicked (6-8)
Break their teeth in their mouth, O God! Break out the fangs of the young lions, O LORD! Let them flow away as waters which run continually; when he bends his bow, let his arrows be as if cut in pieces. Let them be like a snail which melts away as it goes, like a stillborn child of a woman, that they may not see the sun.

And finally, the sting in the tail, from verses 9-11, the
Prediction about the Wicked (9-11)
Before your pots can feel the burning thorns, He shall take them away as with a whirlwind, as in His living and burning wrath.
The righteous shall rejoice when he sees the vengeance; He shall wash his feet in the blood of the wicked, so that men will say, “Surely there is a reward for the righteous; Surely He is God who judges in the earth.”
So, that’s Psalm 58. And as I said before, we are going back to the first 5 verses, we’ll zoom in to see why these people are wicked.
Firstly, their
Practice is Examined
Examining their                 Rhetoric: v1 “Do you indeed speak righteousness, you silent ones?”
The writer is being sarcastic, here. People speak of goodness, yet we do the opposite. And you can tell straight away whether someone is genuine or not. Just like my scenario earlier, where everyone says they are good in their own eyes, but their mouth gives everything away. Someone who opens their mouth to proclaim their goodness automatically declares themselves unrighteous, because, as Jesus himself says in Mark 10:18 “…No one is good, but One, that is, God”.
And isn’t it the same with everyone you meet? Everybody thinks they are good. And their perception of good is compared with the next person. Compared with Hugh, I’m exceptionally good! Sorry, he knows I’m joking…maybe.
Next, examining their     Ruling: v1 “Do you judge uprightly, you sons of men?”
The writer continues his sarcasm. Because people believe they are good, they base their rulings on this errant belief. My belief says this is true, that this is right and this is wrong, therefore that is the way I will rule. But Jesus says in John 7:24 “Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgement”.
And isn’t that the same with everyone you meet? Everybody judges based on their own faulty, floundering worldview, rather than what God has shown us in His Word.
So, their practice is examined, but next their
Practice is Exposed
The writer found that their Hearts Were Bad: v2 “No, in your heart you work wickedness…”
We naturally rely on our heart’s feelings to shape us and mould us into the people we are. But what we need to know is that the heart we have inherited is poisoned with sin, because we inherited it from Adam.
The Bible says in Jeremiah 17:9 “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked, who can know it?”.
We can’t help sinning. It comes naturally. You’ve heard the saying ‘we aren’t sinners because we sin, we sin because we are sinners’. We were born that way. One preacher puts it like this: “Now some of you will walk out of here tonight, shocked! You’ll say, ‘I’ve… … Broken every law.’ It’s not just an issue that you have sinned – the issue is, you’ve never done anything but sin!”. (Washer).
So their Hearts were bad, but also their
                                                Hands Were Bad: v2 “You weigh out the violence of your hands in the earth”
A bad, sin-poisoned heart pumps sin-poisoned blood through the body. And it infects every cell of us. To not sin is impossible. We don’t need an attitude change, we need a heart transplant.
The Bible says in Ezekiel 36:26-27 “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them.”.
When we walk without God, we walk with a poisoned, stone heart that naturally sins, and does evil.
And isn’t that obvious with everyone you meet? No one needs to be taught how to sin – sin comes naturally because sin has infected everybody.
So, their practice is examined, then exposed, and next their
Practice is Enlightened
We will quickly run through how this plays out
Sinner is               Alienated: v3 “The wicked are estranged from the womb”.
This means they have been separated from God. They have always been this way and there is nothing in and of themselves they can do in order to fix ourselves.
                                Astray: v3: “They go astray as soon as they are born, speaking lies”.
The path they take is naturally away from God – in the opposite direction from God. Walking the broad way.
                                Accusing: v3 “They go astray as soon as they are born, speaking lies”.
They can’t help speak against God and spread lies about Him, and His people.
Afflicting: v4 “Their poison is like the poison of a serpent; they are like the deaf cobra that stops it’s ear…”.
Their bite spreads poison like gossip and lies, without concern that it may even cause death.
                                Anarchist: v5 “Which will not heed the voice of charmers, charming ever so skilfully”
They are naturally rebellious in nature.
[Worship team to come up]
So, I hope that gives you a better perspective of every sinner. And the bottom line is, before we were saved, this described us to a tee.
And although we may find it hard to be ‘all things to all people’, we can have complete confidence that the Gospel can free everyone, and save us from that sin.
But only when we come to God in repentance, through Christ, whom God sent to be a sacrifice on our behalf. Placing our faith in Christ ensures our eternal future with Him.

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