Supporting The Church


The Problem Of Inadequate Support

1 Corinthians 9:1-10:15

The lesson today deals with supporting those who are called of God to preach the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.

As Christians we are obligated to not only support the Church and the ministries of the Church, we are to support those that preach the “Gospel”!

Some things to consider are these things:

1) Every preacher called of God should be supported in his ministry according to the limits of the ability of the church he serves!

2) No preacher should be supported unless he is willing to preach without that support!

3) Every preacher must be above suspicion, preaching is not a job, it is a calling!

*****1Co 9:1 Am I not an apostle? am I not free? have I not seen Jesus Christ our Lord? are not ye my work in the Lord?
1Co 9:2 If I be not an apostle unto others, yet doubtless I am to you: for the seal of mine apostleship are ye in the Lord.
1Co 9:3 Mine answer to them that do examine me is this,
1Co 9:4 Have we not power to eat and to drink?
1Co 9:5 Have we not power to lead about a sister, a wife, as well as other apostles, and as the brethren of the Lord, and Cephas?
1Co 9:6 Or I only and Barnabas, have not we power to forbear working?

There were many in that day and even some today who questioned the apostleship of Paul.

If Paul was not called of Christ then his words might have no real meaning at all!

Not everyone who saw Jesus became an apostle, but no one became an apostle who had not seen the Lord and who had not been commissioned by Him!

There can be no apostles today for these reasons!

Paul had seen the Lord on the road to Damascus!

Jesus had spoken to Paul with His actual voice!

Paul had been commissioned, even with a special commission, to reach out to the Gentiles!

Paul was called of God to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ!

Paul had not chosen this thing himself, he was just obeying the Lord and the Lord gave Paul the same authority as He had done to the other eleven!

Paul had the same “Christian Liberty” as all brothers and sisters in Christ have!

The truth is, this church in Corinth was just one of the places that proved the results of Paul’s labor and his God given ability to lead the lost to Christ for salvation.

Paul had taught that because of the conditions of that day, it may be better to remain celibate and devote a life full time to the Lord’s service but Paul also recognized that it was also good to be married.

In fact Paul taught that one was no more holy than the other!

Paul insisted that even the Apostles had that same right if they so chose.

There is no biblical requirement for the clergy to be celibate!

We know that Peter had a wife, and we are sure some of the others did also.

Paul was just as much biblically free to take a wife if he so chose to do so!

The Bible clearly teaches the support of the ministry and Paul and Barnabas could have expected this church in Corinth to help in that support but Paul chose not to do this for his own reasons!

The truth is, that the greatest work that anyone can do is to lead a lost soul to the Lord for salvation!

No other work on this planet is greater than this work that Christ Jesus has given us all to do!

In fact Paul was saying to these Corinthians that if anyone deserved to be supported by this church then he should be at the top of the list.

And Paul begins to explain:

*****1Co 9:7 Who goeth a warfare any time at his own charges? who planteth a vineyard, and eateth not of the fruit thereof? or who feedeth a flock, and eateth not of the milk of the flock?

**The armies of this world are supported at the expense of the public.

Preachers called of God are the good soldiers of Jesus Christ, they are engaged in a warfare state in fighting the good fight of faith against all the enemies of the church!

It is only reasonable that they be supported by God’s children!

**The church is the vineyard of God, those called to preach are the planters, the vine-dressers, and the laborers in God’s vineyard and they should be able to partake of the vineyard!

**The church is the flock of sheep that belong to God.

It is the job of God’s preachers to be that shepherd of those sheep until the true Shepherd appears to take us home.

He that feeds the flock should eat of the milk that is produced!

Is this not what the Bible teaches says Paul?

*****1Co 9:8 Say I these things as a man? or saith not the law the same also?
1Co 9:9 For it is written in the law of Moses, Thou shalt not muzzle the mouth of the ox that treadeth out the corn. Doth God take care for oxen?
1Co 9:10 Or saith he it altogether for our sakes? For our sakes, no doubt, this is written: that he that ploweth should plow in hope; and that he that thresheth in hope should be partaker of his hope.
1Co 9:11 If we have sown unto you spiritual things, is it a great thing if we shall reap your carnal things?

Paul knows that many in the church will question these things.

If God’s man can produce what the people need, then he should profit from that production but on the other hand those who will not work, neither should they eat!

Those that would muzzle an ox while he is doing such work, would find that ox would get weak and production would suffer.

1Ti 5:18 For the scripture saith, Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn. And, The labourer is worthy of his reward.

God’s laborers are certainly worthy of their reward!

Every preacher who plows and threshes in the house of God in hope of spiritual things, should also be a partaker of this hope!

The preacher should be supported by those he preaches to!

If one labors in the carnal world they live by the fruit of their labor, how much more should not one who sows “spiritual things” reap of the “carnal things” of those to whom he ministers!

*****1Co 9:12 If others be partakers of this power over you, are not we rather? Nevertheless we have not used this power; but suffer all things, lest we should hinder the gospel of Christ.

The Apostle Paul abilities were great. He knew the Old Testament from cover to cover. He had been trained at the feet of Gamaliel and finished in the top of his class. He had been trained to work with his own hands and he had been called of God and had all the powers of the Apostles but Paul did not allow any of these things to hinder his moral obligation to God’s people!

After his salvation, Paul was more like Jesus than most all other men because he knew the mind of Christ toward all nations!

Paul willingly gave up his right to church support, that he might have the pleasure of saying he was a willing volunteer in the work of the Lord much like Isaiah.

Isa 6:8 Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? “Then said I, Here am I; send me”.

Paul had nothing to prove to these Corinthians, Paul just cherished the fact that he could serve the Lord!

Paul said do you not know the Word of God?

*****1Co 9:13 Do ye not know that they which minister about holy things live of the things of the temple? and they which wait at the altar are partakers with the altar?
1Co 9:14 Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel.

What is the truth?

The priests and the Levites lived off of the offerings and the sacrifices that were brought to the Temple and before that to the Tabernacle.

Num 18:7 Therefore thou and thy sons with thee shall keep your priest’s office for every thing of the altar, and within the vail; and ye shall serve: I have given your priest’s office unto you as a service of gift: and the stranger that cometh nigh shall be put to death.
Num 18:8 And the LORD spake unto Aaron, Behold, I also have given thee the charge of mine heave offerings of all the hallowed things of the children of Israel; unto thee have I given them by reason of the anointing, and to thy sons, by an ordinance for ever.
Num 18:9 This shall be thine of the most holy things, reserved from the fire: every oblation of theirs, every meat offering of theirs, and every sin offering of theirs, and every trespass offering of theirs, which they shall render unto me, shall be most holy for thee and for thy sons.

This teaching is very clear: The Old Testament ministers of the Word of God under the Law and the House of God, were supported by the people to whom they ministered to!

Should not God’s ministers who were now under “Grace” also be supported?

What had Jesus taught the Apostles?

Luk 10:8 And into whatsoever city ye enter, and they receive you, eat such things as are set before you:
Luk 10:9 And heal the sick that are therein, and say unto them, The kingdom of God is come nigh unto you.

Mat 10:10 Nor scrip for your journey, neither two coats, neither shoes, nor yet staves: for the workman is worthy of his meat.

Supporting the ministers called of God is a fundamental principle that the Church should not neglect for it is a needed part of carrying the Gospel throughout this world!

As this is also needed teaching to the New Testament Church every preacher is to teach these things!

The Apostle Paul had his own reasons for not accepting support from these Corinthians which he went on to explain.

*****1Co 9:15 But I have used none of these things: neither have I written these things, that it should be so done unto me: for it were better for me to die, than that any man should make my glorying void.

The Apostle Paul clearly understood the evils that could result from “a paid ministry”!

We can see these things even more often in the modern day Church where those who support the minister then make demands of that minister, which he will comply with in order to keep his position.

This is not the intent of supporting the ministry!

Men who devote their lives to the preaching of the Gospel of Jesus Christ deserve the support of the Church!

Those that just tickle the ears of the flock of God need to be run out of the ministry but that is what we see behind many pulpits today!

2Ti 4:3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;
2Ti 4:4 And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.

It is not charity to support the true man called of God, it is deserved!

The true minister of God must be first a man, then a Christian, and then a messenger of Jesus Christ!

The Apostle Paul decided to relinquish any support from these Corinthians rather than give them another occasion to offer their reproach.

Many of them already questioned his apostleship!

It is easy to see as we follow these Scriptures that this church required a special touch from God’s Apostle!

*****1Co 9:16 For though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of: for necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel!
1Co 9:17 For if I do this thing willingly, I have a reward: but if against my will, a dispensation of the gospel is committed unto me.

The Apostle Paul, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Jonah, and every true man called of God already know that they could not keep the Word of God to themselves and they also understand the results of preaching the “Gospel”.

Jeremiah said:

Jer 20:9 Then I said, I will not make mention of him, nor speak any more in his name. “But his word was in mine heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I was weary with forbearing, and I could not stay”.

Paul had only one goal and that was to gain other souls to the Lord!

Paul was willing to forgo comfort, profit, rest and any earthly prize in his goal of that “crown of rejoicing”!

1Th 2:19 For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming?
1Th 2:20 For ye are our glory and joy.

The Apostle Paul lived in dread of becoming a castaway.

Paul had no fear of being rejected of God but he did fear reaching a point when he was of no use to God and was cast aside in favor of someone more unselfish, more compliant, and more willing to give of themselves!

The life of the Apostle Paul will put us all to shame, who think we are serving the Lord, but God does not think on these terms, God only expects our reasonable service!

What reward was Paul seeking?

*****1Co 9:18 What is my reward then? Verily that, when I preach the gospel, I may make the gospel of Christ without charge, that I abuse not my power in the gospel.
1Co 9:19 For though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more.

The Apostle Paul is saying that there is not enough money in this world that could replace the happiness he got from preaching the Gospel without cost to any!

It was of utmost importance to Paul for Christians to see that the rewards for serving the Lord are far more greater than any wage or reward that could be gotten from this world!

If this seemed to be boasting then in truth it is because it is the truth. The wages of the servant of God go far beyond salvation and eternal life, which should be enough if that was all we received.

The Bible says:

Isa 64:4 For since the beginning of the world men have not heard, nor perceived by the ear, neither hath the eye seen, O God, beside thee, what he hath prepared for him that waiteth for him.

Paul had powers given to him by the Lord but he refused to abuse any of those powers so he could concentrate on the pure “love of God”!

Paul had made this covenant with himself, at the beginning of his ministry and he stuck to it throughout his ministry!

Paul did not demand support for himself even though he taught the full Word of God which called for the supporting of those men God called into the ministry.

Every house of God should strive to support the man God has given them along with the maintenance of a place of worship and the proper outreach which should concentrate on discipleship and evangelism!

*****1Co 9:20 And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law;
1Co 9:21 To them that are without law, as without law, (being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ,) that I might gain them that are without law.
1Co 9:22 To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.
1Co 9:23 And this I do for the gospel’s sake, that I might be partaker thereof with you.
1Co 9:24 Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain.

It is a fact that in any race there can be but one winner!

If we refuse to even enter into that race, we will never have an opportunity to be a winner!

The prize to Paul was the “high calling of Jesus Christ”!

The Word of God gives each of us the rules for running in the race for sanctification and then glorification.

The course we are to run on is this world on which we live!

Unless we accept the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ as the truth then we can never be a part of this race!

Jesus Christ ran His race and won and is now sitting at rest on His throne in Heaven until it is time to return to gather all His winners!

The encouragement to run is the “Grace of God”, God’s Riches At Christ Expense!

We can begin this race by running to Christ and our race will end when Christ runs back to get His children!

Running is moving forward and as Christians it must be our goal to continue to move forward all the days that God will give us. Standing still is still losing ground!

*****1Co 9:25 And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible.
1Co 9:26 I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air:
1Co 9:27 But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.

Racing, is normally a competition with a group. To strive, is that battle we face within our own selves and is an even more severe contest than the foot race!

The Apostle Paul exercised self-denial even abstaining from many things that would have made his own life more pleasant in order to gain the reward promised by the Lord!

Those that race for the glory of this world, can only win a crown that will fade away!

Those that race for the Glory of God, will obtain a reward that will never fade away and will be waiting on them when they get home to Heaven.

When we run the Christian race, and answer the call of God, we must take clear aim at the goals of Christ and cast away anything that hinders us, be indifferent to what bystanders may say, and consider that even a stumble can be a means of encouragement!

A boxer may shadow box to prepare for his opponent but we must never forget our opponent is Satan and he has been at this for more than 6000 years and he is a real adversary!

We must first win that battle with our own flesh before we can be a servant who will slave for the Lord or just be cast aside while God chooses someone else.

This was Paul’s goal and our goals should be similar!

There are things we should remember in the Word of God!

Our God is powerful!

*****1Co 10:1 Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea;
1Co 10:2 And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea;
1Co 10:3 And did all eat the same spiritual meat;
1Co 10:4 And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ.
1Co 10:5 But with many of them God was not well pleased: for they were overthrown in the wilderness.

Remember this Church at Corinth was full of people who thought they had reached their peak in Bible Knowledge and needed no further instructions.

Many today refuse to go to the house of God because they feel they are saved and have no further need of instruction and they are just as wrong as these Corinthians!

The people of Israel had witnessed with their own eyes the miracle at the Red Sea.

The people of Israel had seen the “Cloud by day” and the “Fire by night” that had remained with them day and night for 40 years.

The people of Israel had eaten of the manna that came down from Heaven and sustained them for 40 years.

The people of Israel had witnessed and drank of the water that had gushed from the Rock and that Rock was in “TYPE” Christ Himself, the true Living Water!

The people of Israel were eye-witnesses to how it could be only Jehovah God who could do all these things and yet they failed in their “Faith” and God was not pleased with many of them and they never entered into the Promised Land of God and they were over thrown in the wilderness!

These things are all examples for the Church to learn and understand!

*****1Co 10:6 Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted.

Typology is used as a method of interpreting the Old Testament as it relates to the main theme of the Bible, which is “salvation” and out Christian walk after salvation!

Paul is saying that all these things are examples or “types” for our comparison!

The experiences of the Jewish people in their Exodus from Egypt are a great lesson for every believer.

All the Jewish people were a part of this Exodus and all were free from the “bondage of Egypt” but God was not pleased with most of them and they died unable to enter into the Promised land!

The Lord Jesus Christ died on Calvary’s Cross and paid the sin debt for all human beings, but God is not pleased with all those that reject the Lord and the work that He did for all our salvation and they will never enter into the Promised Heavenly home!

Christians are not to lust after the things of this world.

Christians are not to murmur and complain because of persecution.

Christians are to set the example as the true children of God!

Even the “Grace” of God has it’s limits!

*****1Co 10:7 Neither be ye idolaters, as were some of them; as it is written, The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play.

Some of these Israelite deliberately sat down, rejecting the Word of God, and worshipped an idol.

As Christians we must realize that anything that comes between us and our Lord is idol worship!

*****1Co 10:8 Neither let us commit fornication, as some of them committed, and fell in one day three and twenty thousand.

If we remember Balaam from the Old Testament, we know that he was unable to put a curse on the children of Israel because God simply would not allow it.

Though Balaam could not curse them, he did make a suggestion to King Balak of a way to cause Israel to sin.

Jesus Christ reminds the “Church Age” of the doctrine of Balaam in that day.

Rev 2:14 But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication.

Temptation was the downfall of many a Christians in the day of Paul and it is so much the more today!

These Corinthians were surrounded by temples of worship to false deities and prostitution was used in most all of them to entice the worshipper.

So long as we are in this world we will be exposed to temptations and we need always to be on our watch against them!

*****1Co 10:9 Neither let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed of serpents.

To “tempt” is to “try to the uttermost” to see if God is as good as His Word says!

Every Word that God has given us is true!

We must praise Him for His “Grace”.

We must trust by “faith” in His salvation!

We must also believe that those that reject the Lord will certainly see the wrath of God!

God is certainly everything His Word says He is!

*****1Co 10:10 Neither murmur ye, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer.

If there be any doubt in your mind we can be sure that God hates a bunch of complaining people!

The fruit of the Spirit is joy!

It is our faith which will bring with it that joy!

1Pe 1:8 Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory:
1Pe 1:9 Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.

*****1Co 10:11 Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.
1Co 10:12 Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.
1Co 10:13 There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.
1Co 10:14 Wherefore, my dearly beloved, flee from idolatry.
1Co 10:15 I speak as to wise men; judge ye what I say.

If there be any doubt that we should study the Old Testament Scriptures, then these words should put that to rest.

The Old Testament is given to us for our admonition!

Admonition means, for our attention, for our instruction in duties, for our direction, and for our caution and warning!

2Ti 3:16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
2Ti 3:17 That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.

There is never a time until we reach Heaven that we do not need to be studying the Word of God!

God is “faithful”!

God will never allow us to be tempted beyond our own strength without making a way of escape!

These words are just as true as the words of salvation!

To flee, is to run away as fast as you possibly can from all these things God has warned us about.

Remember God does not warn us for the punishment, God warns us because He loves us so much!

The Apostle Paul was a Christian who set very high standards for himself after he was saved and even Paul failed from time to time.

Who are we to think that this sinful, evil world cannot touch us!

We are all just sinners, who are saved only by the “GRACE” of God and held together only by OUR OWN FAITH”!

Questions?

Let’s Pray!

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