Today on Summit Life with JD Greer. How much more should we be willing to discipline our lives for the souls of people that last forever. The crown that we're striving for is not having our name printed in the rafters. What I'm striving after is the soul of my neighbor, my coworker, or even your grandkids. That is the principle that cuts to the noise of all this kind of chaos. Hey, welcome back to Summit Life with JD Greer.
As always, I'm your host, Molly Vidovitch. Today, Pastor JD picks up the analogy that Paul uses in chapter nine of an athlete in training and asks us the question, how can we run like the disciplined athletes in pursuit of the race that God has set before us? You know, athletes are ruthless. They eliminate everything that stands in the way of winning, and we should be the same way. Even our ethnic identity, we lay it all on the line for the sake of the gospel, that we might save some. And don't forget, you can reach out to us at jdgreer.com or give us a call at 866-335-5220 anytime. We have resources available to help direct you in your journey with Jesus.
But right now, let's join Pastor JD in First Corinthians chapter nine. When I served as a student pastor, one of my favorite student group games was this one where you would create a small indoor obstacle course. The blindfolded person got to choose one person from their team to stand at the end of the obstacle course and call out instructions for them. Like, okay, turn left, now duck, take two steps forward, step over the tire, walk carefully through the broken glass, that kind of stuff.
Just kidding, not really broken glass. But the trick was that everybody on the other team also got to stand around the side, shouting out counter instructions. Now, it's actually a lot harder than it sounds.
You'd think you'd be able to pick the voice of your friend out of the crowd, but it was incredibly difficult to cut through all the noise and focus on the guidance that you needed. I'm pretty sure a few of the kids ended up in the emergency room because of this game, but thankfully most people were less litigious back when I was a student pastor. That's probably why I'm able to be your pastor today. I share that because the title of our series through 1 Corinthians is Cutting Through the Noise, because that's what Paul is attempting to do in this letter to the Corinthian church. Paul's gonna set up the gospel. He has been setting up the gospel as the voice that cuts through the noise to guide this church out of the troubled waters of all the situations they're in to guide them to safety and to peace. In the first four chapters of Corinthians, we saw how the gospel heals the divisions in the church that arose from pride. In the second section, which was chapters five through seven, Paul demonstrates to them how the gospel gives them clarity in the moral and the sexual confusion that abounded in their society. Today, we're gonna cross over into the third section of this letter, where Paul begins to explain to them how the gospel can unite them, even when they are culturally and politically divided, which you can see won't be relevant to us at all, will it? I've mentioned this before, Summit, but this church in Corinth, it was pretty diverse just in its makeup. It was made up of Jews and Gentiles, young and old, rich and poor, people who had been religious for years, and those with no religious background at all. And that brought conflict into the church.
You understand, it always does. A lot of you have this really rosy picture of multi-ethnic unity that I'm gonna tell you, bringing people together of diverse backgrounds always creates tension and sometimes conflict. And what that does is it creates an opportunity for the unique beauty and the power of the gospel to shine. The world, the world longs to see this kind of unity. They idealize it in movies and they teach it in the classrooms, but very few seem able to accomplish it. And when you peel back the layers, you find that the unity that we celebrate in pictures is not a unity that really takes place on any substantive level.
Critical race theory cannot accomplish this. What the world tries to accomplish through things like CRT, the gospel accomplishes to the death and the resurrection. So let's jump right to Paul's conclusion on this.
1 Corinthians 9, he's gonna begin his conclusion in verse 19. Paul says, for though I am free from all, for the sake of the gospel, I've made myself a servant to all. The word there for servant is actually the word for slave, by the way. A slave is somebody who is totally owned by somebody else.
And while a terrible, terrible institution, it is an analogy that Paul's audience would have been familiar with. Paul says, look, I've given up control. I've given up every preference. I've given up every perspective to the gospel. I claim no rights to any of them at all.
All I think about now, all I think about now is how I might win more of them. And so to the Jews, I became as a Jew in order to win the Jews. Now, that's a really interesting statement to me because I asked, Paul, you were ethnically a Jew. How could someone who was ethnically a Jew become a Jew to the Jews because you were already a Jew?
What that meant when Paul's saying that, what he's showing you is that for Paul, his Jewishness, even his ethnicity, his culture, he can play up or play down. He said to those under the law, I became as one under the law, though not myself being under the law. What he means by that is I was willing to live culturally like those who keep the law. What I don't mean, of course, is that I put myself back under the law as a means of salvation, like I used to believe when I was a Pharisee. I just culturally started to live like people under the law. And I did that, that I might win those under the law. Verse 21, to those outside the law, I became as one outside the law, not of course being outside the law of God, but under the law of Christ, meaning I was willing to live culturally like those who were not under Jewish law.
Of course, I don't mean by that. He says that I cast off all morality and started to live like a reprobate. I'm still bound, of course, by the moral law of Christ, but I lived culturally like those who did not have Jewish law in their background. And I did that, that I might win those outside the law. To the weak, I became as weak, or I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people that by all means, I might save some. Or better, you might say, translate that as, I might have the chance to point them to salvation. And here's your key phrase, verse 23, I do it all. Everything I do now, everything I do, I do for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings. And then verse 24, do you not know, do you not know that in a race, all the runners run, but only one receives the prize. So run like you're actually trying to win it, not just like you're trying to get through the race. Here's Paul's second analogy for how he thinks about his Christian life.
The first analogy was slave to the gospel. The second one is professional athlete. A professional athlete gets rid of everything that keeps them from winning. A professional swimmer, for example, takes off literally everything that might slow them down. Wearing a Speedo, shaving my legs and my chest, and wearing a little rubber Cappy would not be my preferred style in any context. But if I was a competitive swimmer, that's what I would probably choose to wear to the swim meet and you are welcome for that mental image, okay?
You can never unsee that again. I may have the right to show up at a swim meet in board shorts and a tank top, but that is not a right that I will exercise if I want to win. Paul says, I've got the right to a lot of things in the Christian life, but I lay them aside to help me win people to Jesus. Specifically in chapter nine, Paul mentions three particular rights that he's given up to help win people to Jesus.
These are just examples, okay? Verse four, he said, don't we have the right to eat and drink? That was a reference to a controversy in the early church over whether one could eat meat that had been offered to idols. Do you want to read about it, go back? That's all of chapter eight. He discusses that controversy.
Basically, here's the deal. Almost all of the meat sold in the markets in Corinth had been presented first to an idol for blessing. And so a lot of the new Christians, particularly the Jewish ones, felt like that meant the meat was permanently tainted and that in eating the meat, you were A, condoning the idol worship that blessed it, and B, you were inviting the power of that idol into your life. Plus a lot of the meat was pork, which was forbidden under the Jewish law, right? So they were like, we just can't eat meat because it goes against our conscience.
But there were other Christians in the church who were like, wait a minute, no. Idols are not really things at all. They're not gods, they're just statues. God's power is stronger than any idol's curse. And Jesus' death has cleansed us, cleansed all things for us, so go ahead.
Go ahead and please pass the Baal blessed bacon, I'm hungry. Now in chapter eight, Paul's gonna explain. These are two opinions, but one of them's right. Paul was on team meat eater all the way. He said the meat eaters are right.
The blood of Jesus has indeed cleansed us and all things for us and God's power is indeed stronger than any idol's power. So we're free to eat whatever we want. Paul was on team meat eater with no questions. But Paul said, but if my eating that meat will keep somebody else from hearing the gospel, then I won't eat. I will not eat meat in a way that would cause them to stumble because I will eliminate anything in my life that hinders me in my race to bring people to Jesus. Y'all listen, giving up bacon would be a humongous sacrifice for me. But Paul says, I've subjected even that to the gospel.
This is making me hungry. We gotta move on to the next point, verse five. Don't we also have the right to be accompanied in our journeys by a believing wife? Y'all remember in chapter seven, when we studied it, Paul explained he remained single because why? Because it's more helpful for the mission at the time. Paul's like, look, and here he's basically saying, look, I'd like to be married and I have that right to be married, but at this time that's not what the Holy Spirit has shown me is best for the mission.
So I've given that right up. Verse 12, if others have a right to receive financial benefits from you, don't we? Paul and Barnabas had chosen not to take a salary for their ministry, even though other Christian leaders at the time did. Paul said, there's nothing wrong with that.
They should, you should pay them. That was in part the reason they chose not to take a salary was because there were a lot of people out there saying that the apostles were making up all these stories about the resurrection in order to get rich and powerful. And Paul said, look, let me, he says, I realized 2000 years from now a guy named Bart Ehrman is gonna come along and say that we all apostles did all this so that we could just get rich.
Let me just go ahead and take that off the table right now. I'm just not gonna take any money for it at all. The Holy Spirit has shown me that my testimony will be even more compelling if I don't take any money for it to show that I'm not making these stories up to get rich and powerful. I've got a right to be financially supported in my work like anybody else, but I've given up that right for the sake of the gospel. Verse 15, for my part, I have used none of these rights. Verse 18, what then is my reward? My reward is to preach the gospel and offer it free of charge and not make full use of my rights in the gospel. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, but I might save more of them. Again, verse 25, athletes who compete exercise extreme self-control in everything.
They do it to receive a perishable crown, but we an imperishable crown. It's like I'm running a race for the souls of the lost. This is Summit Life with Pastor J.D.
Greer. For more information about this ministry, visit us anytime at jdgreer.com. We'll return to today's teaching in just a moment, but first let me tell you about our featured resource of the month. It's called Cutting Through the Noise, 14 Five-Minute Studies in 1 Corinthians. If you're looking for a way to grow in your understanding of all that we're learning on the program right now, this study guide is a great place to start. Take just five minutes a day and see how this book gives us teaching that is still relevant today. Whether you're studying on your own or with a friend, this resource is designed to help cut through the noise of our busy lives and focus on the gospel itself.
Order your copy by calling 866-335-5220 or visiting jdgreer.com today. Well, I remember reading recently about the training program of Michael Phelps. Michael Phelps, of course, was the most decorated Olympic athlete of not just our time, but all time. He's won a total of 28 medals, which means that by himself, he has won more medals than 70% of the countries that compete in the Olympics have won in their entire histories.
To win those medals for Michael Phelps, though, has come at a pretty steep cost. During his peak training seasons, he would swim about 12 miles per day, every day. He did this for 1800 consecutive days without missing a single one. He ate 12,000 calories a day. He would literally eat a pound of pasta for lunch and then every day, another pound of pasta for dinner. Who says you cannot out-exercise a bad diet, right?
You swim 12 miles a day, you can eat whatever you want. And he did all this for a bunch of records, right? That one day be broken and a bunch of medals that will end up in a dusty museum somewhere. Someday you realize our kids, definitely our grandkids, but probably even our kids, are gonna hear the name Michael Phelps or see him on TV and be like, who was that dad?
They'll have absolutely no knowledge of him. Most of today's students going into Cameron Indoor Stadium have no idea who two thirds of the names that are printed on the jerseys hanging in the rafters, they don't even know who they are. Paul says, if athletes train like they do for crowns that perish and to get their names in rafters that fade into oblivion, how much more should we be willing to discipline our lives for the souls of people that last forever? The crown that we're striving for is not having our name printed in the rafters. What I'm striving after is the soul of my neighbor, my coworker, or even your grandkids.
That is the principle that cuts to the noise of all this kind of chaos. Now, what I want us to do with the rest of our time is I want us to apply it to us in two different ways. First, I wanna talk about us as a church, a church body. I wanna explain how this impacts how we think about and how we think about ourselves and how we organize our ministries.
And secondly, I wanna challenge you personally to think about how you are ordering your own personal life and your family life. Okay, so first, let's talk about the church. We've got three things here for the church that I want to emphasize.
What this means is, number one, we gotta sacrifice preference, all of them, in order to reach the lost. We are celebrating, by God's grace, our 20th year as the Summit Church. And that is my 20th anniversary of when I'm here, because when I'm here, new leadership team, we changed the name of the Summit Church.
It was Homestead Heights Baptist Church for about 40 years before that. And so that has led me to a lot of reflection, particularly because in the last year, and you've heard me say this before, but in the last year, three of that original group of 300, three of those dear saints that started with me in 2002 have gone on to be with Jesus in the last 12 or so months. And I'm thinking, of course, about Carl Scott, who was one of our elders for many years, Doug Martellan, who ran all of our production, and David Baber, who was on our staff, and before that was chairman of our elders for a while too.
All three of those were there at the beginning, and all three championed this value as much as any human being I have ever known in my life. And that is probably best illustrated by a story that I tell often here. So if you've been here, you've heard me tell this, but it involves David Baber going back to 2002.
Let me give you the Cliff Notes version of it. Basically, long story short is a friend of mine and I started a basketball ministry when I got here, so we owned a gym at the time. I was much younger then and still not very good, but a bunch of guys came from the neighborhood and they all, you know, we hit it off, they started to give each other nicknames. I've told you like, you know, one guy was called Money because he'd never missed a three, one guy was called Flash because he was so quick, and one guy was called Air because he could jump and dunk. They gave me a name and I was pretty flattered by it at first until I heard the name and it was No Don't Shoot.
No Don't Shoot was the name that I was assigned on that team. And through God's grace, not because of my basketball skill, a couple of those guys ended up coming to faith in Christ, and one was about a six foot five African-American guy. And I got to baptize him. One of the first people I baptized at the Summit Church, to my knowledge, first person, first African-American, this church had baptized. And so I'm up there and he gives us incredible testimony.
I mean, just so moving about how God was working in his life. And David Faber comes up to me after the service and I advise you to know David, this will make sense. David comes up and he said, he said, son, he said, you know, a lot of people around here aren't excited about the changes you're making in our church.
And I said, yeah, I know, I get the emails. He said, but he says, he gets all choked up and he points toward the baptismal where we just baptized that guy. And he said, but if that's what we're gonna get right there, you can count me in for all of them.
And I will watch your back and cover you on every single one of them, right? That's a generation of people that have made us who we are. We are where we are summit because a group of saints were willing to make themselves uncomfortable for the sake of reaching others. And I think they would say from heaven, I did it for the sake of the gospel. Not because I preferred that in a church.
I did it for the sake of the gospel that we might save more of them. Sadly, the countryside of America is dotted with churches who won't do that. They sit on furniture designed in the 1940s, listen to music from the 1950s, listen to a pastor dressed like he got stuck in the 1960s. I heard one guy say, if the 1950s ever come back, a lot of our churches are gonna be ready.
We're gonna be totally ready. But they don't wanna change. They don't wanna change because change is uncomfortable. Some of you grew up in churches like these and you know how hard it is to get them to change anything. The organ, who listens to an organ?
The handbells, what other context would you pull out the handbells in? And Lord help us if somebody tried to bring in a drum set, that's tantamount to setting up an altar to Satan, right? The sad truth is that for many of these churches, they prioritize maintaining their traditions over reaching their grandchildren. And I don't share that with you so that you and I can feel smug about how advanced we are.
Look at our stage and look at all the lights and all that. Do you realize how easy it is for us to let that same spirit creep back in? How willing are you to put up with things that you don't like in church for the sake of reaching others? Because I'll tell you in 20 years, emails haven't slowed down that much.
How much are you willing to put up with music or styles or topics that may not be your favorite? But help us reach somebody else. How committed are you to this church reaching the triangle?
Let me just make this real for a minute, okay? Paul's illustration for how he applied 1 Corinthians 9 was to have Timothy, his traveling companion, circumcised. For Jews, being circumcised was a thing that you did, not only to obey the law, but also to show your respect for your Jewish heritage. Timothy had a Jewish mom, but because his dad was a Gentile, Timothy had never been circumcised. And that became a huge problem for a lot of the Jews that he and Paul were trying to reach because they thought in not getting circumcised, Timothy was disrespecting his Jewish heritage like he was ashamed of it and trying to distance himself from it. And so Paul argues, listen, he's like, look, according to the gospel, he doesn't need to be circumcised.
And for you to demand that is unreasonable. But Acts 16, three, in order to remove any obstacle to the gospel, Paul had Timothy, a grown man, circumcised. You keep that in the back of your mind as the standard for being uncomfortable. I was like, Timothy's gonna meet a lot of us in heaven. He's gonna say, please, please do not bellyache to me that the music was not exactly to your liking.
My becoming all things, all people cost me a lot more than you putting up with some new music. We're always asking that this church as much as we can, how we can best set up this church to reach more people. Yeah, that's the primary reason we chose to pursue multi-site.
Just to be clear, multi-site is a headache for everybody. But we figured that it was, several of our staff are over here to my left. We figured that it was easier. It'd be easier for us to reach more people in the triangle if people that didn't come to church had a facility they could come to that was within 15 minutes driving distance of them. It's like I always say, we're flattered that you would drive 45 minutes to come to our church, but probably you do that because you love Jesus. And so the person that you just met in your neighborhood who doesn't love Jesus isn't gonna make that drive. So rather than build one big gargantuan six flags over Jesus kind of building, we just said, hey, let's build slightly smaller outposts all over the triangle. We do it all for the sake of the gospel that we might save some.
I hope that you and I will always feel a little bit uncomfortable here. Because the moment that this becomes the church that you've always wanted to go to, then we're no longer the kind of church that is reaching people around us that are unlike us, right? We want to be a church that not caters to our needs and preferences, but one that is stripped down, so to speak, for maximum effectiveness. Our goal here at Summit Life is to help you grow deeper into the good news of Jesus's death and resurrection, because that's where transformation happens. So no matter what the topic is, Pastor JD will always bring it back to the cross. If you've missed any of the previous messages in this Hallmark study, let me encourage you to get caught up.
You can listen to the entire Cutting Through the Noise series online, free of charge, at jdgrier.com. We want to make sure that you know about Pastor JD's new resource available right now to our Summit Life family. Like our teaching series, it's called Cutting Through the Noise, 14 Five-Minute Studies in First Corinthians. For a gift of $35 or more this month, we'll send you this incredible resource so you can keep God's Word top of mind no matter how hectic life gets. Contact us today and we'll send you your copy when you generously give to support this ministry. We're adding more radio stations all the time, and every new station means more people can hear this program, but every new station also means new expenses. Unlike traditional radio, we don't make money from advertisements. We rely solely on God's people to help fund this mission.
When a college student tunes in to stay rooted in the gospel on a secular campus, or when someone hears the gospel for the very first time, their thanks belongs to you. Call 866-335-5220. That's 866-335-5220. Or give online at jdgreer.com. That's J-D-G-R-E-E-A-R.com. While you're on the website, don't forget to sign up for our weekly newsletter. You can get ministry updates, information about new resources, and Pastor JD's latest blog post delivered straight to your email inbox.
It's a great way to stay connected with summit life, and it's completely free to subscribe. Sign up when you go to jdgreer.com. I'm Molly Vitovich, encouraging you to join us again tomorrow as we continue this study in 1 Corinthians. See you then on Summit Life with J.D. Greer. Today's program was produced and sponsored by J.D. Greer Ministries.
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