Caution to students of God's Word - Please remember two things when using our studies: #1. Our commentary is not God's Word. It is only our interpretation or understanding of "His Word" and even though we try our best to be accurate we may or may not be correct. #2. The King James translation, or any other translation, of the original Hebrew text has some words which were given different translations at different places probably because of the interpreters preconceived ideas of what they think God meant to say. For example: According to the notes in the "Dake's Annotated Reference Bible" the Hebrew word hayah in the KJV is Trans. (became) 67 times, (becamest or came to pass) 505 times, (become) 66 times, and (come to pass) 131 times, but for some reason in Genesis 1:2 it is translated (was)! That sure changes the way a person perceives the original creation of the earth, doesn't it? Gen. 1:2 And the earth was (became) without form, ... Having said that, let us continue with our "Key Knowledge" lessons. These are pamphlets containing knowledge, we believe, you must have to fully and accurately unlock and understand the Word of God.
But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me:
Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you.
This Bible Study was originally written by Roger
published at http://www.theseason.org/
Without the leading by the Holy Spirit, there is no understanding of the truths, for all the truth of the Scriptures are revealed to us by God's Spirit.
Now here is our study of:
"Claims Established by Paul's Practical Teaching."This chapter of Paul's letters to the Corinthians deals with Paul's opinion of the different ministries.
I Corinthians 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?"
An "apostle" is one sent forth by God to do a mission or ministry. Paul definitely was not a slave, however he was a servant to the living God. The answer to Paul's third question also is a definite yes. Paul had an experience on the road to Damascus where by Jesus spoke directly to Paul, and called him to His ministry. Paul is getting their attention with these four questions, and the Corinthians knew that their church was the work of Paul when he came to Corinth preaching the gospel. There was not a Christian church in Corinth until Paul arrived.
I Corinthians 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."
In other words, the very conversion of you Corinthians, and the establishment of the church in Corinth is the seal of Paul's work. Paul started the work, and Apollos and Peter came afterwards to water the minds of the Corinthians to bring them into maturity in God's Word. In that they came to understand God's Word, and they knew that what Paul had told them was of God, that alone is the proof of Paul's apostleship.
I Corinthians 9:3 "Mine answer to them that do examine me is this;"
So if someone comes along to question whether I was an apostle, the following is what you tell them. There were many that came along with the legal mind of the law, that questioned whether Paul was of God. We will get into these super-preachers later, and see how they will test Paul, but Paul had no problems with them.
I Corinthians 9:4 "Have we not power to eat and to drink?"
Paul is now asking, "Don't we have the right to eat and to drink?" Of course you do, for if you didn't, you would die. Paul had the right to eat and drink with them for it was Paul's congregation.
I Corinthians 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 [Peter]?"
Paul is calling attention that just because they were apostles and ministers, they still had the right to marry, as was Peter. We know this from Jesus' own mouth. Matthew 8:14 "And when Jesus was come into Peter's house, He saw his wife's mother laid, and sick of a fever." Paul is saying that if an apostle of Christ wants to take his wife with him when he goes forth with the gospel, they have that right, and many of the apostles did at times. However this did not apply to Paul because Paul never married. If Paul was married though, he also would have had the right.
In a congregation there are always those that can create doubt over any matter you desire to bring up, and that includes the private life of the apostles and those ministering the Word of God. Then when they do, there are always the weak minded that will give them ear, and kindle the fires that these trouble makers start.
I Corinthians 9:6 "Or I only and Barnabas, have not we power to forbear working?"
Paul is stating that both he and Barnabas have the right to charge a salary if we want to, for the work that we have done in your congregation. All of the others probably did receive the offering that was take for them, except Paul and Barnabas, but they felt led to work for their keep while the young church was growing. You see Paul was a tent maker by profession and he never accepted money while in the service of the Lord. The Corinthians knew this well of Paul, as we read in Acts 18:1-3.
Acts 18:1 "After these things Paul departed from Athens, and came to Corinth;"
Acts 18:2 "And found a certain Jew named Aquila, born in Pontus, lately come from Italy, with his wife Prescilla; (because that Claudius had commanded all Jews to depart from Rome:) and came unto them."
Acts 18:3 "And because he was of the same craft, he abode with them, and wrought: for by their occupation they were tentmakers."
The two points that I'm trying to make here is that the people of Corinth knew Paul as the tentmaker, which he practiced while building the church up in Corinth. Years later we know from Paul's letter to the Romans, that Priscilla and Aquila were Paul's helpers in his ministry.
Romans 16:3 "Greet Priscilla and Aquila my helpers in Christ Jesus:"
Romans 16:4 "Who have for my life laid down their own necks: unto whom not only I give thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles [at Corinth]."
Paul was a tentmaker and he never accepted money for his own personal use by the church. Apparently Barnabas did not accept money either.
I Corinthians 9:7 "Who goeth a warfare any time at his own charges? who planeth a vineyard, and eateth not of the fruit thereof? of who feedeth a flock, and eateth not of the milk of the flock?"
When any nation goes to war against another people, it is one government warring against another government, and the people at large pay the expenses of the war through their taxes. Warfare is nation against nation. Paul is also asking, who would plant a vineyard, and not eat the fruit that came from his own vineyard? If you are raising a flock of sheep and you take the time to milk the sheep, it is only common sense that you should drink of the milk that you have take the time to raise and milk.
Paul is laying the foundation here that if a person takes the time to do a job for his own benefit and the benefit of other, he should expect payment for his or her efforts. It is a Christian thing to do, to expect a profit for the work that you have done. Whether it is working as a soldier for the government, planting an orchard, raising sheep, or building up a congregation for the body of Christ. Paul is stating that every person has a reason for doing what he is doing, so why would Paul go to all that work in building up this church at Corinth and not expecting any salary in return? Why would Paul plant this garden of believers of this congregation, or feed and raise these flock of sheep and not expect anything in return?
Paul did this for the blessings of their conversion. Paul did this to document the fact that he did what he did for the sake of the advancement of the gospel of Christ. Paul was not in the ministry to make money but to win souls to Jesus Christ, to the truth of the living Word of God.
I Corinthians 9:8 "Say I these things as a man? or saith not the law the same also?"
Paul is now asking them, are you going to look at what I am saying in the flesh sense only? However, even the law backs me up in what I am saying. Moses wrote of this in Deuteronomy 20:6 "And what man is he that hath planted a vineyard, and hath not yet eaten of it? let him also go and return unto his house, lest he die in the battle, and another man eat of it." There should be nothing to prevent a person from expecting to take the profits of his own labor, not even warfare.
I Corinthians 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 owen?"
Here again is another bible study from the books of Moses. This time it is from Deuteronomy 25:4 "Thou shalt not muzzle the ox when he treadeth out the corn." What both Paul and Moses are saying, is do you think God is concerned with the oxen? No, this is only a figure of speech or an analogy concerning the priests and ministers of the gospel. If a man does the work of treading the work within the congregation with his teaching, then he deserves a priestly offering.
I Corinthians 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."
In other words, what God had said applying to the ox, was to be considered for man also. Though this is written in the natural sense, follow what it is saying in the spiritual sense. When one goes out and plows the field, and plants the seed, in time the seed will germinate and grow into a plant that will bear fruit. That person that prepared the mind of a person to receive the seed of truth, and the one that put the seed in the ground should expect to share alike in the benefits of the crop when it grows to maturity. So now in the spiritual sense, if you go out preaching and teaching the gospel of Christ, and you are teaching the truth and not a bunch of tradition, you are going to bear fruit. It is something that you should expect. When we plant a seed of thought in the mind of someone through a ministry, many times there is doubt that our words will ever germinate. However that is not your concern. It is the duty of the Holy Spirit to make that seed germinate, and bring understanding to what you have said. This is applying to a ministry, and not to a one on one planting of seed.
If you are a called minister of God and gifted in the teaching of God's Word, your ministry is going to produce fruit. If your ministry does not produce fruit, then probably there is a reason for it's failure. Maybe the gift was not from God, but assumed by the one who took it over. Ministries that are not of God turn their ministers into beggars in priest's robes. God's ministries support themselves by the fruit that they bear, and when it does not happen, then something is wrong. The begging bag brings shame on both Christianity and the Word of God, for those being taught have missed the entire point of what Christ and the Word of God is all about. When the pastor is at the mercy of a deacon board for the next days food, and the deacon board controls what is given in his sermons, that what he says is not led by the Spirit of God, but by the whims of a group of men trying to puff themselves in their own minds.
I think that this is why Paul would not take a salary or offering, except in only a few cases, and it was for the sake of those giving the offering that he received it. Remember that all gifts of teaching and preaching are given by God without repentance, and when one church shuts you down, it is time to pick yourself up and go to others to preach and teach.
I Corinthians 9:11 "If we have sown unto you spiritual things, is it a great thing if we shall reap your carnal things?"
Paul is saying that if he has sown great spiritual things there in Corinth, it is just natural to expect that the carnal things shall also come his way. The way that you show that you have received any spiritual thing is by expressing it in a carnal way. God laid out the method of carnal expression, and it is called the tithe. You show God just how worthy you are spiritually by the way you follow His instructions in the only way that you can. You give as the Lord has blessed you, and the "tithe" is one tenth. However in the days of Paul, and early Israel, the taking care of the elderly, and the orphans were the responsibility of the priests of the temple. Today much of the things that the government is doing today, were the things that the priests and elders looked after before. The government was the church, they did the legal duties, as well as the supporting of family matters.
I Corinthians 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."
Now Paul is taking aim at the super-preachers, the ones with the big begging bags, and many promises. What Paul is saying here is that if you are going to allow someone to come in your church and rip you off, don't we have a better right then they? We are the ones that founded your church there, and we are the ones that first established you in the gospel of Christ. I would think that I have a better right than any super-preacher with all his promises and begging? We have the right to do this but we do not chose to impose on your congregation at all, but we suffer all the cost of our ministry for the sake of the gospel of Christ. You know that the only interest that we have in your church is that of bringing others to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.
This would be very difficult to understand when you see some super-preacher counting his millions and then having the gull to come right back with a bigger begging bag. If you have watched any TV ministries at all you know exactly what I am saying. Many are "beggars in priest's robes".
I Corinthians 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?"
Paul is saying these super-preachers or ministers take the holy things that of the tithe that was given to God, and they indulge their lives as if it was owed to them. However when any minister does it God's way, and administers the Word at the altar of God, they should expect only their just due. This is outlined in the Old Testament as to what they should expect.
I Corinthians 9:14 "Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel."
Paul is saying that there is nothing wrong with a minister taking a salary when he is preaching the gospel, and helping others to live according to the gospel of Christ. It is something due him, just like the farmer that plows and seeds the field, and the man that plants the orchard. He has every right to receive a living wage for his ministry. The two examples that Paul is giving in these verses are comparing the purpose of the ministers preaching; for one is for the sake of money, and the other for the sake of teaching the Word of God. If the Word of God is not taught completely to where the congregation understands the entire plan of God, then he can be questioned over the receiving of a salary. It is up to the congregation to take care of the preacher and his family when he is caring for the spiritual needs of the congregation. God provides for this in His Word.
I Corinthians 9:15 "But I have used none of these things: neither have I written these things, that it should be done unto me: for it were better for me to die, than that any man should make my glorying void."
Boasting and glory is not really applied to this verse, for what Paul is trying to say is that the freedom that he has in serving God is not hinged on his taking something to where he would become obligated to anyone. If Paul took a salary from the church then he would have obligations and duties that would not allow him to teach freely. Today much of the duties of the pastor include visiting the sick, tend to the instructions of certain groups such as the youth, and other matters dealing with the financial responsibilities of keeping the property managed.
When Paul preached or taught he taught on all three levels with spiritual understanding.
I Corinthians 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"
Paul is saying that even in his preaching of the gospel there is nothing that he can boast of, for all the glory of Paul's work is given to Christ. Jesus paid the price, and He is the only one that gets the praise for whatever fruits come from either Paul's work or yours. Without Christ there is no hope, nor future for anyone. Again remember Revelation 4:11 "Thou 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."
The very reason for Paul's teaching was because God
struck him down and blinded him while on the road to Damascus for binding and
imprisoning Christians. Paul is saying that God has given him his mission, and
direction, and if he fails in following that purpose then "woe is unto me". No
telling what God would do to Paul if that should ever happen, and it did not.
Paul's only purpose in life was to preach and teach the gospel of Christ to the
Gentiles, the kings, and the lost house of Israel. God showed this mission to
Paul through Ananias.
Acts 9:15 "But the Lord said unto him, "Go
thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto Me, to bear My name before the Gentile,
and kings and the children of Israel:"
Acts 9:16 "For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for My name's sake."
took many beating for the sake of Christ and the establishing of many churches. In fact
most of the entire New Testament are the letters that Paul sent to
those churches in giving them direction in their understanding of the
Word of God. Most all of what Paul taught came directly
from the Old Testament, for Paul was well instructed in the law of God, and he
was an authority in their meanings. Paul was God's chosen vessel and personal
representative to kings and even to the throne in Rome.
Acts 9:17 "For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for My name's sake."
Paul took many beating for the sake of Christ and the establishing of many churches. In fact most of the entire New Testament are the letters that Paul sent to those churches in giving them direction in their understanding of the Word of God. Most all of what Paul taught came directly from the Old Testament, for Paul was well instructed in the law of God, and he was an authority in their meanings. Paul was God's chosen vessel and personal representative to kings and even to the throne in Rome.
Paul had no choice in what he did, and neither do you if you are one chosen of God for a mission that He has gifted you to do. Gifts by God are given without repentance, no matter what the world around you may do to you. Men and church systems may strip your credential from you, but the true gift is your ability to teach God's Word no matter where you are.
I Corinthians 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."
Paul is saying. if I do my obligation willingly I already have my pay; the "dispensation" which is better translated "stewardship" of the gospel was given to me by Jesus Christ. Without saying a word it is obvious what Paul's pay was.
I Corinthians 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."
Paul is saying that I preach the gospel without making anyone beholding to me, and I am not indebt to anyone for the preaching that I do. I do not abuse the power that God has placed within me. Remember that this is Paul's personal opinion as to being obligated to others on the matter of the taking of a salary. Every minister has the right to take a salary for the keep of his family. Paul freely chose not to take a salary.
I Corinthians 9:19 "For though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more."
Paul was free from the control of all men, and he was under the control of Jesus Christ only. (Editors note: Most ministers today are not free from the control of men) Paul chose this for himself of not taking a salary so that he would be free to go where he desired, for the sake of gaining more converts for Christ. If men are over you, and in control of your pay, your retirement, your medical plan, or the house you live in and so on, they have a say in the words that come out of your mouth. If they say you are offensive to a certain group within the congregation, say the sodomites, or the rich or any other group that remains in a click, then they expect you to change what you say, or you are gone from that pulpit. The ministry becomes a time of speeches of men's thoughts to soothe the ears of the congregation, and not giving forth the entire Word of God. If it becomes too offensive to teach on what really happened in the garden of Eden, then they expect you to create your fairy-tales of apple orchards, and substitute lies for the truth that would help clarify the rest of the Word.
In time traditions become more important than what God's Word really says. As a minister following those ways, you have so deadened your conscience and convictions that the only thing that matters to you is that you sound respectable, and the congregation loves you. In time your congregation is nothing more than a spiritual nursery, for spiritual milk sucking, dirty diapered, immature Christians that simply wouldn't know when to say "Amen". Are you starting to see why Paul wanted the chains of this type of bondage off from him.
If you teach the truth of God's Word and the entire plan of God, then you don't have to worry about the sheep not coming to your pasture to feed. Feed the sheep and they will come. When you teach the Word of God as it ought to be taught, The sheep or congregation will be fed on the level of understanding that they are at. The only one deceived by the games that most pastors play is themselves. It is interesting that when you ask someone what they learned in Church, very few people can explain what they heard or even tell if the sermon was from the Bible or some man's speech.
So what Paul is saying is that he just doesn't want to answer to any man but our Heavenly Father. He knew the rewards that he is going to receive are eternal, and Paul does not want to relate spiritual gifts into a carnal value system. Paul's reward was the converts that would be gained from his ministry. Those converts of Paul are numbered even to today, for many are still saved when they read and come to the knowledge of Christ through his letters.
I Corinthians 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;"
Paul is telling us now how he teaches. Paul is saying that if I want to teach and convert the Jews I will get down to their level and talk in their language. Remember that Paul was a Benjamite, as we see from Romans 11:1 "I say then, Hath God cast away His people? God forbid. For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin." Paul was not of the tribe of Judah, or a Kenite but of Benjamin. The Word Jew as used here is # 2453 in Strong's Greek dictionary: "ioudaios, ee-oo-dah'-yos; from 2443 (in the sense of 2455 as a country); Judaean, i.e. belonging to Jehudah."
So what Paul is saying when I am in Judaea, I will talk like one from Judaea for the sake of their understanding what I have to say. If I talk to one that understands the law, then we will speak in legal terms also for the sake of teaching them of Christ. Remember that Paul was educated at the highest level of the law, "at the feet of Gamaliel", the most learned scholar of the Sanhedrin [the Jewish high court]. Paul could speak with the learned of His day because he was taught by the best, and polished in their ways. Paul explained who he was at his trial in Caesarea, when the Jews brought him before Felix' court, in Acts 22:1-3.
Acts 22:1 "Men, brethren and fathers, hear ye my defence which I make now unto you."
Acts 22:2 "(And when they heard that he spake in the Hebrew tongue to them, they kept the more silence: and he saith,)"
When Paul wanted the Jews to understand what He was saying he spoke in Hebrew, their language.
Acts 22:3 "I am verily a man which am a Jew, born in Tarsus, a city in Cilicia, yet brought up in this city [Jerusalem] at the feet of Gamaliel, and taught according to the perfect manner of the law of the fathers, and was zealous toward God, as ye all are this day."
It was no accident that Paul was chosen for the task that God put him in, for He was trained in the ways of the law, the educated mind, and given an education to stand with the most learned. This is all said so that we can know what Paul is talking about when he says I became a Jew, that I might gain the Jews for Christ. When you are trying to win some soul over to Christ you will have to get to their level of understand before that person can gain the knowledge to see his sin and be converted to Christ. If it takes an artist mind to win an artist over to Christ then you have to speak on a level that artist's understands, if you are speaking to a logger then the same goes, and it even applies to whatever the language, or occupation level of that person you are speaking to.
I Corinthians 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."
Paul is saying that he will live like those people, whether Jewish or Gentile, for the sole purpose of converting them to Christ. That was Paul's commission given directly by God to Paul at his conversion. Those without the law, simply means "the Gentiles". This doesn't mean that Paul was going to become a drunk to speak to a drunk, but it means that the words that he speaks will be at the level so that this person will not be confused by what he is saying. Paul is going to take his high level of teaching and make it so simple that they will understand exactly what is said.
I Corinthians 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."
You have to understand the mind of the one that you are talking to before you can speak to them with clarity to their mind. The point is not to show them how great you are, and all the information that is in your mind, but that you can put the deeper levels of understanding the Word of God to a level that it is clear to what you are trying to say. The whole purpose of your speaking to them in the first place is to convert them and change their lives into becoming a Christian. In the end you are making them soul winners also just like you are trying to do to them. You have to know how they think whereby you gain their confidence and trust, and then you can plant the truth of almighty God with understanding in their minds. Paul could teach all three levels of understanding, and he could teach all three at the same time. This is why when we read over some passage the second and third time through, each time our understanding comes to an entirely new level.
Paul is saying here that in our teaching the unsaved, we should not threaten them that are weak to gain an advantage over them. Threatening a person with hell fire will not bring a person into the love of God, but on the level of their thinking relate the love of God and the sacrifice that Christ gave through that love by going to the cross to pay the price for their sins. If you can't relate to someone, then how can you expect to teach them anything.
I Corinthians 9:23 "And this I do for the gospel's sake, that I might be partaker thereof with you."
I taught you so that the gospel of Jesus Christ could be spread by you. Once you gain the understanding of the Word of God, it then becomes your responsibility to pass it on, just like I have done to you.
I Corinthians 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."
In a race there may be twenty people running the race, but there is only going to be one winner. When you desire to learn and teach others in God's Word put the same effort that you would to win a race. Follow someone that is experienced in teaching that has the understanding. Follow Paul and the methods that Paul used in dealing with people.
I Corinthians 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."
"Mastery is temperate" in today language means that, "he trains to do what he is going to do". If you are going to teach then it is well that you know the Word of God from Genesis to Revelation, and the Plan of God for the ages that the Scriptures are about. If you are going to sing for the praise and glory of God, then you practice and take lessons to be the best.
When one participates in any sport there is only one spot that is aimed for and that is number one. The corruptible crown for a football player is winning the super bowl, and wearing the big ring. For a baseball player it is the world series, and for the runner it is the Olympics. Even in school there is a corruptible crown and that is the grades that are given out at the end of the term, but in time those corruptible crowns lose their value and tarnish.
However Christians have another incorruptible crown that we will receive when this life is over, and long after this flesh age is remembered no more. That crown is our eternal salvation that we win in our spiritual war and it is not of this earth age. Paul is now going to go into how we prepare to win those spiritual victorys. God gives you the gifts, but when you have the gifts you are required to train for the use of those gifts. You need to know the subject before you can teach it to somebody. This is why each of us must train to master the gift that ye are going to use and give back to the Lord. God expects to receive back to Himself with interest all the talents that he places within you. Your intelligence and wisdom is best served when it is educated from the Word of God.
I Corinthians 9:26 "I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air:"
In the verse prior Paul said that we are here in this life to run a race, and the only way to compete in that race and win is to train for the race. We are to train our body and our minds to be fit both physically and spiritually, and that involves our learning the documentation for what we believe, and why. When you seek and ask God for understanding, His Spirit will give you the knowledge to see the simplicity that is in his Word. When we run our race for eternal life, we will win the incorruptible crown when we stay in focus to the end of the race.
Now in this verse Paul is bringing in the word "fight", and in the Greek it is "pukteuo". This illustration of this word comes directly for the Companion Bible. When Paul was comparing the race he was not happy with just a contest, but now he is comparing our race with fighting with our fists, or boxing. In Paul's day fighting or boxing was not with padded gloves as we do today, but it used leather straps, studded with pieces of metal. There was a clear objective to entering a race of the fight in those days, and those doing the fighting know that losing would more then likely cost him his life. Focus in on that, and see just how desirable entering that contest would be when it meant the destruction of your physical body even to the point of death.
Those that were not interested in the crowns that came with serious fighting, and the glory that went with it, would parade around and appear like they were boxing, which in the Greek is called "skiamachia". Skiamachia in reality was "shadow boxing".
When we are fighting against Satan in the race of spiritual warfare, it is for keeps, for "pukteuo", and that fight could cost you your very soul if you lose. We enter that war to fight to win at all cost. We are to have no mercy in the spiritual sense, just as the boxer that puts on those leather straps with the studded hunks of metal knows what it means to lose, and his loss may cost him his life. There are no prisoners in the spiritual warfare with Satan and his angels for they are out to claim your very soul. There is no half way point, or spot of negotiation with the enemy, and the sooner you see that he is out for the very existence of your soul, the better you will be prepared for the time that is coming on our generation very shortly.
Paul is saying that he is not out here just shadow boxing, but I have put the brass knuckles on and I am in for the kill, spiritually speaking. Once you get down and focus in on God's Word, you are preparing for the fight that is coming at the close of this earth age. Satan is already defeated at the cross of Christ, and we have the victory when we come to that cross in repentance, and then put on the whole armor of the Word of God, and prepare ourselves for the spiritual battle of our lives.
Friend, if we are in Christ, we have already overcome, and we already have the victory, for all we have to do is claim it. Every promise in the Word of God is yours once you are a child of the living God with enough knowledge to reach out and take it. The spiritual warfare that is coming upon the earth when Satan arrives in his role as the "instead of Christ" or Antichrist, as well as those things that we face in our everyday lives are no problem at all. We know that God will never burden us with things that are too hard for us to face, but will give us an avenue of escape. Jesus promised us in Matthew 11 that He would be there when the load of life was getting to great.
Matthew 11:28 "Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest."
The word "rest" means "Sabbath" in the Hebrew tongue. Christ became our Sabbath, all of our Sabbaths when we accepted Him by repentance in His name. What Christ is saying here, is that if you have the eyes to see and the ears to here what is written in His Word, then let Me lighten your load and give you rest when those times get to hard for you.
Matthew 11:29 "Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me, for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall fine rest unto your souls."
Jesus is asking you to learn all about Him. Then when His Word becomes part of your life, and the central part of your heart which is your mind, then what you are thinking will be directed by the Holy Spirit. God's Spirit will reveal the Word to you and you will find rest in your eternal soul. The purpose of a yoke is the sharing of the work so that each one will do his part to get the work done. When one is far weaker then the stronger in the yoke does the added pulling, and the weaker does only what he is capable of handling. Jesus Christ is telling us to take our heavy burdens and hook them to His yoke, and let Christ share our burdens and make them lighter for us.
The reason for the yoke is to take away the sharp edges and parts of the leather that would hurt the animal, and protect their skin and body. When we hook up to Christ's yoke we bring our burdens to him, and His yoke becomes our protection.
Matthew 11:30 "For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light."
Taking Christ's yoke is not a problem, for it is Christ that does the harnessing. The Master yokes the oxen, and places the traces upon them. Let Christ do that for you, and in His yoke you will find His rest. Christ's yoke will make your day go easy, and it will lighten the loads and pressures that this world places upon you. You may load yourself up more than you can carry, but God won't. This is why we are to learn His Word and He will take care of us when we are in Him.
We are to be fighters and willing to do our part in learning God's Word to where we can stand when we are challenged by an enemy. The enemy is anyone that makes light of God's Word and the power that comes from it. When we strive to be a champion for Christ, he will cover those areas where we are a little weak, and that is why we take on His yoke. To be a champion for Christ takes a time of training, and the thing that Paul is stressing here is that we must have the proper preparation to do the job and use the gifts that God expects us to use.
However, today there are many of these super-preachers in priest's robes running around saying that, "all you have to do is believe." "Believing" is the start of the race, but how are you going to finish the race. There is much more to a race then getting off the starting line, for there are no rewards if the race is not finished according to the rules of the race. You have to be trained for the race, for the fight of that spiritual battle that all Christians will face in our generation, or you will lose. There is no middle ground in the race we are running, for you will either be sealed with the Word of God in your mind to stand against Satan and his fallen angels, when they arrive, or you will go and be part of them. If you chose not to be sealed, then God will turn you over to Satan and his locust army of fallen angels.
Revelation 9:4 "And it was commanded them that they should not hurt the grass of the earth, neither any green thing, neither any tree; but only those men which have not the seal of God in their foreheads."
You will either be sealed by God, or Satan, and to be sealed by God is to have His Word stored in your mind with understanding. You will either know the events that are coming upon the earth and the order of those events, or you will be deceived when they happen. If you don't even know what God's plan is for our generation, how in the world do you expect to have any strength at all to stand against Satan?
If you are hooked as many are today in the idea that all you have to do is believe and fly away in the sunset, then you are in serious spiritual trouble. We are living in a time when our generation is about to be well tested. There is a battle coming and most Christians today have no idea that it is right here on our doorstep. They are not trained and conditioned, and they don't even know how to use the sword that God has placed in their hand.
I Corinthians 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."
Even Paul had to keep in focus daily to keep his mind and body under the subjection and leading of God's Word and promises, because he realized that the day may come when he would be found unworthy of wearing the crown of Glory. This is a daily thing of keeping your own self, mind and body, under subjection because of the flesh nature of mankind. Even after you have accepted Christ, that flesh nature is still with you, so we have to be on guard. We have to train and be ready for the spiritual war that is coming and be useful to be part of our heavenly Father's plan.
This is not saying that you have to become a religious fanatic, but it is exciting to be a Christian and understand exactly what is going on today, and see how it all fits into the plan of God. The exciting part is preparing ourselves for what we know is going to happen, and then as it happens we can see God in action to know His prophesies are true. This chapter flows right into the next chapter.
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Two Sowers of Seed", both
the Good (Adam's sons)
and the Tares (Satan's
one Combined Pamphlet #7000/7007
(Jesus Christ told His disciples (which means you if you are one) that
unless they understood the "Parable of the Sower" they would not be able
to understand any of His parables.) You can't understand "The Parable of
the Tares" until you understand "The Parable of the Sower" and you will
be lost comprehending "The Parable of the Fig Tree" until you know who
both sowers were and their deeds.
You must understand "The Parable of the Sower" Click this link to open Pamphlet 7000
in order to understand "The Parable of the Tares" Click this link to open Pamphlet 7007
in order to understand "The Parable of the Fig Tree" Click this link to open Pamphlet 1031
Jesus said Learn it! Mark 13:28 Now learn a parable of the fig tree;...'
Notice to our readers: If you come across and links in our studies that you can't open, go to http://www.americanwisdomseries.com You will find the files there on our web site.