Hello everybody and welcome in to episode #222 of the Bible 2021 podcast. We are reading 1 Corinthians 9 today and our focus is on Paul’s Evangelism Method: Slavery Evangelism. We are a daily 10 minute podcast, where we will dig in to the truth of the Word of God by reading one Bible chapter a day and discussing it. Welcome to new in listeners Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Guatemala City, Guatemala, Auckland, New Zealand, Bacolod, Philippines, Utrecht, Netherlands, parts unknown France and Russia, Monterey, California, Grand Rapids, Michigan, Houston, Texas, Tampa, Florida, Montgomery, Alabama, and Lima, Ohio. Thanks for listening! Our goal is to encourage DAILY Bible reading, so you can jump in at any time and join with us. We want to invite as many people as possible to join us in daily Bible reading, so help spread the word and share the podcast! Don’t forget about our web-page, Bible2021.com – contact page, show notes, transcript and more– Click here for our Bible 2021 reading plan\
Probably my very favorite story in all of church history is the true story of David Nitschmann and Johan Dober. In 1727, there was a diverse community of Christians who lived in Moravia under the leadership of a mighty man of God and prayer named Nicolaus Zinzendorf. This group was made up of many religious refugees from various countries, many of whom fled their countries to escape persecution. August 13 of 1727, 24 men and 24 women from that community came together and made a pact to pray 24 hours a day, seven days a week, one hour at a time, and thus began a prayer meeting that continued uninterrupted and unabated for over 100 years. 5 years after this House of prayer was established, Johan Dober and David Nitschmann, two members of the Moravian community, were stirred by Zinzendorf and the testimony of a black man named Ulrich who had seen the slaves in the West Indies, to sell themselves into slavery to carry the gospel to the plantations on the islands around America. Ultimately the Moravians baptized over 13000 converts in these islands before any other Christian missionaries showed up. By 1742 the community had sent out 70 missionaries to 5 continents out of a community of 600.
Dober and Nitschmann were denied entry as missionaries to the slave plantations of the West Indies in the Americas…so they SOLD themselves into slavery. They boarded a ship to head off and share the gospel with the other slaves, thinking they might not ever see their family and friends again. It is said that as their ship pulled away from the docks and their families, one of the men raised his hands and called out to their loved ones on shore, “May the Lamb that was slain receive the reward of His suffering!”
These two young missionaries were literally embodying what the apostle Paul taught about missions and evangelism in our chapter today:
19 Although I am free from all and not anyone’s slave, I have made myself a slave to everyone, in order to win more people. 20 To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win Jews; to those under the law, like one under the law—though I myself am not under the law—to win those under the law. 21 To those who are without the law, like one without the law—though I am not without God’s law but under the law of Christ—to win those without the law. 22 To the weak I became weak, in order to win the weak. I have become all things to all people, so that I may by every possible means save some. 23 Now I do all this because of the gospel, so that I may share in the blessings. 1 Corinthians 9:19-23
This is one of the most powerful evangelism passages in the entire Bible. Paul’s method of reaching people with the good news of Jesus was all about serving them, about becoming like them, living like them and being flexible. He did not do this in a compromising way or a sinful way, but he was willing to cast his preferences and well being aside to reach people with the gospel, which made him one of the greatest messengers of Jesus in history. We must realize here that Paul’s strategy is all consuming – how can we live like this? Also, how can we be all things to all people without compromising the truth? I love what John Piper has to say to both of these questions:
You might say, “That sure sounds involved.” But life is involved. This is the sort of careful thinking you must do if you are going to take the risks involved in adapting to all kinds of people so that you might save some. As soon as you say, “I have made myself slave to all” (v. 19), and “I have become all things to all men” (v. 23), you are on the brink of idolatry and compromise and worldliness and sin. You are walking the razor’s edge between fruitless separatism and unprincipled expediency. If you fall one way, you are of no use because you have no connection with the world; if you fall the other way, you are of no use because you are just like the world.
How do you keep your faith and your freedom and your radical zeal to win people and not just copy people? The answer is that you think hard about your relation to the law of God—the way Paul did. And what you come to is this:
1. As a Christian, I am not “under law” (v. 20)—that is, I am not bound to earn my salvation by the law, nor am I bound to live by the ceremonial, dietary, separation laws of the Old Testament (for example, circumcision, holy days, no ham and catfish, no mixed fibers, no meat offered to idols, and so on). I am free to go to the home of an animist and humanist and eat whatever they put before me in order to win them for Christ (1 Corinthians 10:27).
2. As a Christian I am nevertheless not without God’s law (v. 21). In 1 Corinthians 7:19 Paul says, “Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but what matters is the keeping of the commandments of God.” This is a remarkable verse! It says that circumcision, which was a commandment of God in the Old Testament is negligible for Christians, but the commandments of God are not negligible. This is why we distinguish between the ceremonial law and the moral law. As Christians we submit to the moral law of God. We are not without the law of God, as Paul says.
3. Which is defined for us in verse 21 as “the law of Christ.” We are under the law of Christ. This is the law of love. In Galatians 6:2 Paul says, “Bear one another’s burdens, and thus fulfill the law of Christ.” The law of Christ is the law that fulfills all laws: Galatians 5:14, “The whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ ” This is called in James 2:8 the “royal law” and “the law of liberty” (1:25; 2:12). It’s the law that free people submit to gladly because they are led by the Holy Spirit. That’s what Paul means when he says in Galatians 5:18, “If you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law.” Instead, you bear the fruit of love, and so submit gladly to the law of Christ, the law of love.
John Piper, Sermons from John Piper (1990–1999) (Minneapolis, MN: Desiring God, 2007).
Bible Memory verses for the month of August: 4 Love is patient, love is kind. Love does not envy, is not boastful, is not arrogant, 5 is not rude, is not self-seeking, is not irritable, and does not keep a record of wrongs. 6 Love finds no joy in unrighteousness but rejoices in the truth. 7 It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 1 Corinthians 13:4-6
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