Calvary Road Baptist Church

ďA FAIR TRADEĒ

First Corinthians 9.11

The other night I was watching a PBS program featuring a Harvard Law School professor lecturing several hundred students in a large and very beautiful lecture hall. The lecture hall looked to be very old and was polished wood throughout. Very beautiful. However, it was the substance of the lecture that really caught my attention. Though I did not see the beginning of the lecture, and was unable to watch the conclusion, in the portion I viewed the professor dealt with ethics and contracts in law, and the obligation of one party to a contract that results from deriving benefit even when no formal agreement has been established.

The illustration he used to convey his point was one of 18th century Scottish philosopher David Hume, who owned a house that he leased to a man to live in, who in turn rented the house to someone else, a third party.[1] Badly needing a paint job, the third party renter hired a painter to paint the house and billed the owner, David Hume. Though Hume argued in court that he had no obligation to pay the painter for painting his house, since he had not hired him, the court ruled that he had to pay because he enjoyed the benefit of the painterís performance whether he had agreed to it in advance or not.

I have no idea whether that principle in contract law still holds, or whether it applies in our country at all, considering the amount of time legislators and courts have had to affect such issues. However, the case did provoke some serious thought about our response to Christmas and the birth of Jesus Christ. On one hand, we are all aware that God is to be worshiped and adored for who He is, as well as for what He has done. Revelation 4.11 makes it very clear: ďThou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.Ē Specifically, what the Lord has done is create all things.

This morning I would like to provoke you to consider your duty, obligation, and responsibility as a beneficiary of some blessing you have received. It is recognized as a principle in the laws that govern menís relations with each other, and it certainly holds true with respect to our relations with God. While some would argue that no one should be obligated to discharge any duty, obligation, or responsibility that they did not consciously choose to enter in to, the Bible is very clear regarding Godís expectation that His creatures display gratitude.

In Paulís letter to the Romans, he levels a withering series of accusations against sinners to establish beyond doubt their culpability regarding the sins they commit, and their guiltiness. Listen, as I read the first portion of Romans 1.21: ďBecause that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful . . . .Ē Thus, sinful manís guilt extends not only to his unwillingness to glorify God for being God, regardless of what He does, how He blesses, but also for ungrateful manís unwillingness and stubborn refusal to show his thankfulness for Godís many and varied blessings.

Allow me to stipulate that God is worthy to be worshiped, to be praised, to be adored, and to be glorified for no other reason than His unsurpassed majesty and greatness. However, this morning I would like to set before you for your consideration three responses to God that are called for as a demonstration of your thankfulness, your gratitude for Godís blessings in your life. Think of it is a fair trade for what God has done:

First, PROPER GRATITUDE WITH RESPECT TO CREATION

Notice what we find in Genesis 2.7: ďAnd the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.Ē Now, drop your eyes down to verses 15-16, where we read, ďAnd the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it. And the LORD God commanded the man. . . .Ē

Never mind at this point what God commanded the man to do. The important observation at this point is that God created the man and then God commanded the man. Read further and you will find that conditions are attached to the manís response to Godís commands, with the warning that disobedience in eating the forbidden fruit of a particular tree was punishable by death.

Hold on a second! I see no evidence here of God asking Adam if he agreed to any of these conditions related to the commands issued to him. Do you? It is almost as if Adam is expected to obey God without agreeing in advance to any kind of binding relationship with God. On what basis does God demand that Adam obey Him? On what basis does Adam agree to obey Him, even though we know he ultimately failed. The point that I make is that it was right for Adam to obey and wrong for Adam to disobey, and Adam makes no complaint about that arrangement. He exhibits no sense of entitlement, whereby he pretends that he has a right to do as he pleases. Why, then, does Adam comply with Godís wishes, at least until the serpent tempts Eve and Adam follows her in the transgression? There are two reasons: First, of course, Adam knows that God is to be obeyed for no other reason than because He is God. God should be obeyed because He is God.

However, there is another reason God should be obeyed, should be worshiped and loved. It is because of the benefit Adam derives from existing, having been created by God. Psalm 100.3: ďKnow ye that the LORD he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves.Ē I submit to you that you have a high and holy obligation to worship God, to love God, and to obey God, not just because He is God, but also because you enjoy the great benefit of existing, of simply being one of His creatures. Because of your debt of gratitude, you comply with His wishes and obey His commands, and being ungrateful, being unthankful, is therefore a terrible sin worthy of punishment.

Thus, everyone should worship and obey God, simply because he exists, because he is Godís creature, and because he will be rightly and justifiably punished in the extreme for not obeying Him.

Next, PROPER GRATITUDE WITH RESPECT TO SALVATION

Paulís letter to the Christians in Rome is a missionary letter that sets forth certain profound truths related to sin, salvation, Godís dealings with the Jewish people, and the way a Christian is instructed to live his life after coming to faith in Jesus Christ. The basis of Paulís letter, of course, is much more than people being creatures that ought to obey God for no other reason than He is God.

Though he is writing to Christians who embrace a biblical view of Jesus, and know Him as their personal Savior, Paulís initial goal is to clarify whom Jesus is and what is His saving work accomplished on Calvaryís cross. To bring that clarity, Paul makes some important points in the very beginning of his address to the Roman Christians: In verse one of chapter one, Paul definitely sets forth that he is ďa servant of Jesus Christ.Ē In verse 2, Paul reminds his readers that Jesus was the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies: ďWhich he had promised afore by his prophets in the holy scriptures.Ē Verse 3 reminds the reader that Jesus Christ is Godís Son, that Jesus Christ is our Lord, and that Jesus Christ is heir to the throne of David: ďConcerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh.Ē Verse 4 informs the reader that not only was Jesus the Son of God, but that He was also raised from the dead: ďAnd declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead.Ē Verse 5 shows Jesus to be the source of grace and of Paulís apostolic calling. Verse 6 reminds the Romans that their effectual call to salvation was ďof Jesus Christ.Ē Verse 7 shows that Jesus is, with God our Father, the source of grace and peace. Verse 8 shows that Paulís relationship with God was through the mediation of Jesus Christ: ďFirst, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world.Ē Finally, throughout this opening passage in Romans, Paulís identification of the Savior as ďJesus ChristĒ no less than five times shows Him to be the Christ, the Anointed One, and the Messiah.

Therefore, you see the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ as the payment for our sins is the bedrock foundation upon which this letter to the Romans was written. Jesus is the Savior Who died for menís sins. He is the Savior who saves sinners who have faith in Him, ďTherefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,Ē Romans 5.1. Thus, we know whom Jesus Christ is that Paul refers to, and we see not only what He has done but also how sinners come to benefit from what He has done. It is by, or through, faith in Jesus Christ that peace with God is made, where before there was only enmity.

So, how is the Christian to respond to this great benefit of now possessing eternal life through Jesus Christ, now being justified before God and having the standing of one who is righteous, and now being indwelt by the Spirit of Christ? Romans 12.1, a truly pivotal verse in Paulís letter to the Romans, tells us what is expected of us as a result of the great benefit of our salvation: ďI beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.Ē

My friends, based upon the benefit to you of Godís great mercies mediated to us through His Son, the reasonable response that is appropriate from you is . . . everything youíve got. Your body as ďa living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.Ē It is your proper gratitude for the salvation you have in Jesus Christ.

Finally, PROPER GRATITUDE WITH RESPECT TO INSTRUCTION

May I shift gears a bit?

My first main point had to do with your response, the gratitude that you should show owing to the benefit you receive from existing, from being one of Godís creatures, from having been born. The proper response, wherein Adam failed, was obedience, though he never questioned or challenged that it was right and proper for him to obey Godís commands and fulfill His expectations.

My second main point had to do with your response, the gratitude that you should show owing to the benefit you receive from your salvation, from being one of Godís children through faith in Jesus Christ, and from having been saved from the sins that otherwise condemn your eternal and undying soul to eternal damnation. It is reasonable to be grateful for such a wonderful and undeserved salvation, even to the extent of presenting your body as a living sacrifice to God. To do less is ingratitude. It is to be unthankful. Creation has to do with your existence. Salvation has to do with your redemption. Both of those realities are profound in ways that are unparalleled.

Now, I would like to turn your attention to something that is important, but in no way approaches the significance of your creation or your salvation. Please turn to First Corinthians chapter nine. Most of you already know two things of relevance to our topic this morning, the carnality of the Corinthian congregation and the vocation of the Apostle Paul. The Corinthians were the most carnal, which is to say the least spiritual, of those early churches we know of Paul dealing with. Perhaps only the church in Laodicea, in Revelation chapter three, was comprised of less spiritual people. Coupled with that, it is important to know that Paul supported himself as a professional tent maker by trade when he was settled for any length of time and not in prison. That being the case, and perhaps because he knew what kind of people he would be dealing with in the corrupt city of Corinth, Paul completely supported himself while he was in that city, and did not train the Corinthian Christians to be faithful givers for the support of the gospel ministry. He did this so that his motives would not be questioned, thereby hindering the progress of the gospel. He did not want the Corinthians to think he was in the ministry for the money.

The problem, of course, and I am sure Paul knew this would be an issue he was willing to face after bringing those folks to Christ, was that those who do not have to show gratitude to hear the gospel sometimes come to think they have no holy obligation to show gratitude after having heard the gospel. Or, to put it another way, folks sometimes think they have no need to demonstrate their gratitude for having benefited from the teaching and preaching of Godís Word. The Corinthian problem was they completely misread Paulís motives, thinking that since he did not receive offerings from them that he had no right to receive offerings from them. However, now that Paul has moved on and has installed a pastor to oversee the Corinthian church, the time has come to set them straight. Paul reminds them that it has been the case since Old Testament times, as well as in every pagan religion, ďthat they which minister about holy things live of the things of the temple.Ē

Paul uses several arguments to prove the point to the Corinthians; his power to receive material support, and the precedent for receiving material support. However, this morning I only want to draw your attention to the propriety of Paul and others in the gospel ministry receiving material support. First Corinthians 9.11: ďIf we have sown unto you spiritual things, is it a great thing if we shall reap your carnal things?Ē

Do you see the basis of Paulís reasoning? It is the same basis that we have already looked at regarding creation and salvation. It is appropriate to demonstrate gratitude for the benefit that is enjoyed. God created you, you derive benefit from existing, so you are obligated to obey Him. Jesus saved you, you derive benefit from your sins being forgiven and being indwelt by the Spirit of God, so you present your body a living sacrifice. Now here, enjoying the benefit of the gospel ministry, being preached to and being instructed from Godís Word, you are supposed to give to materially support the ministry.

 

You enjoy existing, do you not? Sure, there are ups and downs, but existing is better than not existing, and now that you exist, living is better than dying. You believe that or you would take your own life. Well, the proper response to benefiting from existing is to obey God. Those of you who are Christians certainly enjoy the benefits of Christís saving work. Your sins are forgiven, you have eternal life in Christ, you are a child of God, and the Spirit of God indwells you. Over time, you even enjoy the renewing of your mind. And what is your demonstration of gratitude for this great blessing? You present your body a living sacrifice because it is only reasonable that you do so. The Apostle Paul instructed as much. The third demonstration of gratitude we looked at today is the response the Apostle Paul directed for a group of people who had received the benefit of gospel preaching and Bible teaching. Though they may not have realized it at the time they heard it, God had blessed their lives through the teaching and preaching of the men He sent to minister to their spiritual needs, therefore they should faithfully support such menís material needs through their giving.

Thus, we see that this is a well-established principle in Godís Word. God expects people to demonstrate their gratitude for the blessings they receive, for the benefits that are derived. Beyond expecting such gratitude, in Genesis chapter two, in Romans chapter twelve, and in First Corinthians chapter nine we see that God calls for displays of gratitude by actually telling people how they ought to respond.

How do you respond to waking up in the morning and enjoying your existence, benefiting from your life? Do you even think about obeying God? How about the salvation Jesus provided for those who come to Him? Have you presented your body a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to Him, which is your reasonable service? Finally, how do you respond to the benefit you receive when you are taught Godís Word? Do you, as Paul directed, support the gospel ministry through your giving? Do you give at all?

In five days, we will celebrate the birth of Godís Son on Christmas Day. For 2000 years the world, and throughout your life you, have benefited from Christís birth in one way or another. How do you propose to express your gratitude for His birth? How will you demonstrate that you are thankful? What God wants for what He does, and what He has shown that He insists upon, is a fair trade. He blesses you, and then you show Him in the way that He calls for that you are grateful. This Christmas, show your gratitude for Christís birth, after the fashion you display how grateful you are to be alive, to be a Christian, and to be instructed from Godís Word.



[1] David Hume was a well known 18th century skeptic. His views are summarized in the footnote of Gary R. Habermas, The Resurrection Of Jesus, (Latham, MD: University Press of America, Inc., 1984), page 28.



Would you like to contact Dr. Waldrip about this sermon? Please contact him by clicking on the link below. Please do not change the subject within your email message. Thank you.

pastor@calvaryroadbaptist.org