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Have We No Rights?

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice
The Truth Network Radio
July 28, 2021 8:00 am

Have We No Rights?

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice

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July 28, 2021 8:00 am

A church struggles to come to terms with what it means to serve the Lord. But it's not easy. All around are greedy and debauched people. Inevitably some of sinfulness has begun to infiltrate the church. Sound familiar? This scenario is not just our own; the early church of Corinth faced many of the same problems! Dr. Boice's study in 1 Corinthians reveals a striking similarity between own battles and the struggles the early church, here on The Bible Study Hour.

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Welcome to the Bible study our radio and Internet Ministry of finance of convincing evangelicals featuring the Bible teaching of Dr. James Boyce for more information please contact us by calling toll-free one 804 88 18 and now the alliance is pleased to present the Bible study our preparing you to think and act biblically little over 25 years ago a missionary with the China inland Mission Valley overseas missionary Fellowship published books that bore the title have weighed no rights. The missionaries name was Mabel Williamson. I read that book years ago and was very impressed with it. Then early in my ministry when I was preaching on the sermon on the mount. I had occasion to refer back to it and quoted it favorably and what I was saying in writing.

So much so that some years later when Moody press was about to republish this small book which I regard as a classic. They wrote to me to see if I wouldn't do a forward commending it to a new generation of readers. I said something about forward that I feel is true of the subject. Even now I made a prophecy. I'm not generally inclined to do that because it's very easy to be proved wrong and I don't like to be proven wrong but in this case I thought the gamble was worth it. I made prophecy that number one. This book would not become a bestseller and it's reprinted year and number two it was unlikely to make many lists by distinguished Christian leaders as one of the 10 most influential books in my entire life, but I said I think it should make a bestseller list that I think it should be among those books that are influential because Mabel Williamson was simply saying what the apostle Paul says so clearly in the ninth chapter of first Corinthians, he was saying that we do have rights, but if we are to be the servants of Jesus Christ and effective in his ministry. There are situations in which we must be willing to waive those rights for his sake and for the sake of the gospel is what Paul is doing. I'm sure you understand that there's a connection between the subject and first Corinthians 9 and what he was talking about in chapter 8 and chapter 8 he was talking about this question that the Corinthians had brought to him, perhaps by letter. Maybe by messenger.

He is dealing with a number of such items in this portion of the book they had apparently come to him in one form or another and had a raise this question about eating food that had been sacrificed to idols and he answered that he entered it very carefully. He had an analysis of what it really is to know anything spiritually and how that relates to man as well as God and to actions all that many dealt with the subject theoretically in terms of what it means to offer food when I don't idol is nothing Paul says, whether you eat or don't eat any particular kind of food is not intrinsically important to how you get on or fail to get on in the Christian life and it follows from that that eating food that had been offered when idol was simply a matter of indifference. What he said if you're really thinking about others and if you really know the way God would have you all which is to say no. In a way that relates your theoretical knowledge to what's happening in the lives of other people you want to be willing and at times actually forgo eating food that has been offered to idols for the sake of your weaker brother is just talked about we come to chapter 9, he begins to talk about his rights as an apostle, and we say well it sounds very much as if he's change subject entirely know he hasn't reason we know he hasn't is that in the next chapter. He goes back to the subject of food that was sacrificed idols and he talks about that in the latter portion and you say well if the was talking about earlier in chapter 8, and then is talking about it later in chapter 10. What he's doing in chapter 9.

Must have some relationship to that which went before and comes after the course. That's entirely right see what Paul is telling these Corinthians is that they must be willing to give up their right to eat meat that is been sacrificed idols for the sake of others if that's necessary and in order to make clear that the is not suggesting to them, something that he has failed to do himself. He brings in this matter of the rights of an apostle and says in my case I have laid aside even greater rights in order that the gospel might come to you and course if I am done that. Why should it be so difficult for you to lay your pride aside and be more concerned about your brothers and sisters in the Lord than you are with this matter of eating such food. Now that's the context if are going to talk about rights and laying them aside as Paul does here, using himself as an example, you have to recognize first of all that we do have rights. I think if there's anything to be said in a negative way about that book I mentioned by Mabel Williamson.

Have we no rights incident implies that there are no rights and that's not right. Because you see it. We have no rights then what's the big deal about playing rights aside the point of this is we do have rights well.

We recognize that we recognize that even the secular way and that are Declaration of Independence. We talk about the right to life liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Every human being has a right to life. That's a key term and that's one of the things that is being assaulted in our time, but that's something that are founding documents speak of, and liberty.

We believe that liberty is something that is a right given to us by God and anybody who tries to take away liberty is fighting against God, and furthermore is fighting against the standards by which we are willing to live and die, and the pursuit of happiness.

We talk about that nobody has the right to happiness is not something you can guarantee but you can guarantee an environment in which a person has the right to pursue happiness in whatever they think may be the right way and so we have a system of free enterprise, so the people who think that happiness is to be found in the accumulation of goods have a right to pursue that. That's what they want to do. We believe in equal opportunities in education because people who believe that the way to find happiness is through education have a right to pursue that. If that's what they want to do the same thing is true religion people that would believe and we think rightly that happiness is to be found in a relationship to God must in our society have the right to pursue that we speak of those inalienable rights. Furthermore, the Bible does all you have to think of that connection is the 13th chapter of Romans where Paul is writing about the state rights of the state established by God and in which context he says, Romans 13 seven. Give everyone what you owe him. If you owe taxes, pay taxes of revenue and revenue with respect to the respective honor and honor those rights. Certain people deserve honor their due rights and others deserve respect and so on. So from the secular standpoint and also from a biblical standpoint.

You have to talk about rights that's important, doesn't mean that everybody has equal rights say that the student does well in in school that applies himself or herself to the academic load and does better than the other students has the right to a superlative grade but not the one who doesn't work, we have a inverted kind of equality in our time that says that the dollar is equal in honor so far as grades are concerned, the one that has supplied himself and has ability.

That's not true that everyone has the same rights for certain inalienable rights that belong to all their other specific rights that are due to certain individuals because of who they are, what they have gotten the point is that our these rights must recognize them, then the kind of point that Paul is making in first Corinthians 9 just has no weight is going to say and so so clearly as this is an apostle. I have certain rights money is going to say this because we have rights doesn't mean we have to exercise the rights. This is where the emphasis of this book by Mabel Williamson comes in and it's a question of laying these aside, waving our rights for the sake of something which we believe by the instruction of God is a far greater importance now here's the way Paul develops in this chapter.

First of all he talks about himself as an apostle, because that's what he has to establish she's going to talk about the rights of an apostle is always going to talk about the rights of an apostle and use himself as an illustration of how we laid aside those rights. First of all has to show that he's an apostle Paul is doesn't that's what he does in the first two verses my not free of my not an apostle of I not seen our Lord, what is dealing with air.

The qualifications for an apostle. Not everybody good claim to be an apostle because apostle was one we understand from references to the apostleship in the New Testament who fulfilled the qualifications first of all he had was seen the Lord way that's talked about in the first chapter the book of acts as the disciples and the apostles were gathered there in Jerusalem and were seeking about for someone to fill the place of Judas who fell by the betrayal of the Lord. They said let's seek out from among us, someone who was with the Lord during the days of his ministry from the time of the baptism of John until his death, resurrection and ascension into heaven, so apostle was to be a witness of the Lord during those days of his ministry. I was the first qualification in the second, which is clear in the way this was handled in the first chapter relaxes that the person had to be chosen specifically by Christ himself and in the case of acts one they did this by the casting of lots and were told that the lot fell on Matthias and so he was numbered with the 12 apostles had created a problem for Paul because Paul was converted later. Paul is been around at the time of Jesus Christ, but he hadn't been one of the disciples that Ted followed it throughout the days of his earthly ministry.

Certainly not from the beginning of the time of the baptism by John. And there were people who perhaps rightly on the basis of that understanding of who and apostle should be said that Paul really was an apostle that he was a person who had come along later and would make claims to some special kind of revelation, but all he was really teaching was the traditions of man and not the gospel. So again and again in Paul's writings, and particularly in the book of Galatians because his apostleship was under attack. Among the Galatian churches. Paul has to insist that he is an apostle and the qualifications were fulfilled in him though in a slightly different way than had been spoken of in the earliest days of the Christian church. So Paul stresses again and again that he actually had seen the Lord.

All we hadn't been with him all three years, but he does say on more than one occasion I not an apostle, I not seen the Lord to see what he says here in first Corinthians 91 in the second part of that is that he had been chosen to be an apostle that respect. The apostle Paul always referred to his experience on the road to Damascus when Jesus stopped him in his tracks as he was on his way to persecute the Christians and commissioned them to be an apostle to the Gentiles. Paul has that in mind here.

He says I not seen the Lord. Then he adds another thing because he wants to bring it home to them in a personal way. He says not only have I seen the Lord. Not only did he choose me to be an apostle, but you are the fruits of my labor. So we asked the question, are you not the result of my work in the Lord, are you not the seal of my apostleship. I gave you as an apostle says Paul and God work through me in such a powerful way that you came to faith so the very fact that your Christian itself as a seal upon who I am present on.

First of all nodding on that he speaks in the second place of the rights of an apostle sees building is in a very logical way we read these things I sums sound somewhat casual. You know, we write letters without a great deal of thought. We think well just writing a letter, no, no, he's presenting this very logical manner. First of all you see I'm an apostle now. Secondly, rights of an apostle talks about to one is the right to get married. He says that others of the apostles were married in the slave and around they brought their wives with them. So do the other apostles and the Lord's brothers and Cephas that is Peter Peter, the first Pope was married something wrong there either. He wasn't a Pope or something but that's what Paul is saying in this passage and what he saying is look this is right now. I don't say that it is not an apostle's right to have a wife, nobody could say that because the other apostles and wives and yet the point is making is that he himself and his own experience for the sake of the gospel in order that he might be more effective. As he traveled from place to place in an unfettered manner had foregone the right to have a wife and then the second thing apostle, he says, has the right to adequate support is if he's spending all his time serving the church is through the preaching of the gospel and in missionary work.

As he takes the gospel to other places in the Roman world.

He has the right to be supported by the Christian community.

Now might be at that point that people in Paul's day plot away.

Some people think in our day.

Generally, people today don't say preachers don't have a right to live by to say well I don't have a right to live well at any rate, Paul is facing something of that argument. So he begins to talk here in of rather lengthy way about his rights to support and he brings forward a whole series of arguments in order to deal with this.

Show them to you. First of all, in verse seven deals with what I would call a universal principle of the principle is simply that the labor is worthy of his reward now illustrates the different ways he talks about a soldier soldier is serving as a right to be paid doesn't serve as a soldier at his own expense. He talks about Amanda keeps a vineyard. He says a man who keeps a vineyard of a right to eat of its gripes when the harvest comes talks about a shepherd is a shepherd has a right to some of the milk of the flock will be says in the whole wide world. Whatever question that principle see we were talking about writes a moment ago and this is one of them.

If individual man or woman is working for a company that individual has the right, the wages that are commensurate with our job.

That's right, Paul says when you're talking about adequate support for work done just looking about, generally in the world. This is a principle which all men everywhere recognize. Secondly, he gives another argument. The Old Testament teaches the same thing as what you find in verses eight through 10. He says it's written in the law of Moses not muzzle an ox when it spreading out the grain, always quoting from Deuteronomy's 25th chapter verse four says look at the Old Testament law. The Old Testament law says you're not muzzle the ox it spreading out the great I asked the question why God right that is it only for the sake of oxen got have a special concern for oxen doesn't care for other animals or doesn't care for people now know he says what God wrote that for our benefit principle of a person laborers in a certain endeavor. He is a right to a fair portion of that reward working in a business and it produces a certain amount of profit you have a right to share in the profit that's only saying and the Old Testament teaches in verse 11, he has another argument and it would go like this one who gives a lot has a right to share in that which is less and we read in verse 11. If we have sown spiritual seed among you, is it too much. If we read the material harvest is a saying if you're going to weigh material things over again spiritual things spiritual things are of greater value being eternal so obvious principle that if someone is giving that is of great value.

There's nothing wrong and indeed it's a right to receive something of lesser value in return. Verse 12 he brings in the fourth argument in his fourth argument is that the Christian Corinthian's themselves recognize this principle that is trying to establish because the Corinthians were giving up their means to support other teachers if others have this right of support from you. Shouldn't we have it all the more so you saying you may disagree with my argument from general appeal to human experience. You may disagree with my interpretation of Deuteronomy 25 verse four. You may disagree with this matter. Spiritual and material things, but certainly can't argue against what you yourself are already doing support other teachers so he says we have the right is apostles as well. His fifth point has to do with the temple worship and that's in verse 13 he says everywhere in the ancient world, even in the Greek world. Those who share the altar have a right to some of the offering. This you mentioned earlier, it was involved in this whole matter of the meat that was sacrificed to idols portion would be sold portion would go to the priest and the person was consumed in the offering.

Well, he said everyone recognizes that the person is serving in the temple have a right and then finally his fifth point he refers to the teaching of Jesus Christ, you have that in verse 14. Every says in the same way the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should receive their living from.

That's a fairly detailed argument. Paul obviously thought this was important enough to elaborate length because he suspected, and I imagine it was the case that he had enemies there would say all. He doesn't have any right, she's just trying to put something over on us as he wants to get money out of us or some such thing. That's not what Paul is doing. Not all Paul's emphasis is entirely on the other side. All Paul has to say. First of all is I am an apostle number two, the apostles do have rights in one of those rights is to support from Christian people, but now you see becomes the point for which he is writing the entire chapter and he says, although I have these rights, I not everybody but I my case have willingly laid these rights aside in order that I might have the privilege of taking the gospel to you without cost is talking in verse 15, following with that and what he saying there is any doesn't want anybody to misunderstand his motivations says here I am writing along these lines, I don't want anybody who reads this to say all well. Paul is saying this because, well, it's really just a spiritual way of complaining.

Paul is saying, look how I labor. Look how difficult my life is will come faithful. I been as an apostle, and you haven't paid me a single thing way of kinda suggesting that maybe they ought to do that. Paul says no, no I'm not writing this is a matter of fact he says he offered it to me. I wouldn't even take it because I counted one of the great joys of my life to be in a position in which I can labor with my own hands support myself and have the privilege of preaching the gospel without cost.

You see how this is to be applied. Paul would say look, if I am doing that and he wants it is certainly no great thing in this matter of food being offered to idols. The question which you raised with me. Certainly no great thing for you to lay aside this lesser thing that you consider to be your right and order the Christians might not be hindered, but rather all might be built up in the gospel to praise of the glory of Jesus Christ. It's an interesting thing Paul is in introducing the subject of laboring in the Lord's work in a voluntary way without remuneration to make this point he's making the point that I have just been making in turn, what is worth applying it in this way say that they want to be, I think, or at least got to give consideration to it in our own experience of doing certain things.

The Christian life that we do entirely without any idea remuneration preachers to do that is rather difficult in many circumstances for a preacher to have a secular job and at the same time carry on the kind of full-time ministry that's expected by most preachers in most situations.

I would be extremely difficult here. I would think just thinking of the amount of time that it takes not only for one minister but for a whole staff of ministers to work with the various ministries and needs of this church. But even though there are situations and I think wisely in our day and in the majority of cases in which ministers work at that job like anyone else in receive pay for it like anyone else with principal Paul is establishing here very clearly everyone, including ministers under think of areas in which simply because there all right in terms of support and material needs situations in which they volunteer their time, not for remuneration but in order to further the gospel in some way and I must say that many do that many ministers and others.

Christian leaders serve on boards where even spend money to go to board meetings seven where they give very graciously of their time in order that under the umbrella of somebody already cared for an inadequate way. They're able to see that some other work goes forward is hardly one of us doesn't have some place in our life. Some contact pack some awareness of need. Where were able to do that in the same way that the apostle Paul did. Now we come to the very end of this chapter. Verse 24 and following, we find here that in a very appropriate way. What Paul talks about his self-denial and we know right so yes, yes we do have rights for the sake of the gospel to see we have to lay some of these aside even in the personal way in order that we might obtain the prize of the high calling to which recall Paul uses an image at this point. It's an image from the athletic games he talks about a runner and some of his language has to do with a boxer and what he says is this if you want to excel in the sport you going to endure a certain amount of hardship, you must discipline your body disciplining your body is never fun hard work and it hurts I'm hurting right now because the last night I went out running and my the weather was so nice I over did it and I went the whole way out alone around the river. I just felt good.

It was wonderful I knew was I was doing I was going to hurt. The next day and I do something good about it. Pain is a wonderful thing.

Remind you that your human and also it reminds you that there are things for which it is worth enduring hardship. What Paul is saying here is this look if we are so concerned about doing this as individuals where matters of sport or concern, where we discipline ourselves bringing our body into subjection order that we might want a little bit faster than we did the last time or be a little bit thinner in better shape than we were a year ago. Certainly we should be willing to do that for the gospel sake.

Yet how many of us are really lean and fit for the greatest work that we can possibly have is concerned, we often we have to call flabby Christians, undisciplined Christians self absorbed Christians bosses that ought not to be, but rather we should see things as these describe them and pay the price in order. The Jesus Christ might be exalted in other people's lives right our father we ask you to bless this passage to us. We realize that whenever we talk about discipline, self-sacrifice, hardship, yielding our rights.

That's a hard thing and we don't naturally take 2 inch we like rather the gospel of self-aggrandizement that says well if you follow Jesus all of your problems will be solved in life would be a bed of roses. Help us to see things the way Jesus himself saw them who for the joy that was before him. The joy of leading many sons and daughters of the glory endured hardship becoming subject to death, even the death of the cross, our father, give us grace to do that, that we might follow in his steps for his glory. You are listening to Bible study hour with the Bible teaching of Dr. James Boyce listener supported ministry of the alliance of confessing Evangelicals. The alliance exists to promote a biblical understanding and worldview. Drawing upon the insight and wisdom of reformed theologians from decades and even centuries gone by. We seek to provide Christian teaching that will equip believers to understand and meet the challenges and opportunities of our time and place. Alliance broadcasting includes the Bible study hour with Dr. James Boyce every last word with Bible teacher, Dr. Philip Aiken, God's living word with pastor, the Rev. Richard Phillips and Dr. Barnhouse in the Bible featuring Donald Barnhouse. For more information on the alliance including a free introductory package for first-time callers or to make a contribution. Please call toll-free 1-800-488-1888. Again, that's 1-800-488-1888. You can also write the alliance at Box 2000, Philadelphia PA 19103 or you can visit us for Canadian gifts mail those 2237 Rouge Hills Dr., Scarborough, ON, and 1C2Y9 ask for your free resource catalog featuring books, audio commentaries, booklets, videos, and a wealth of other materials from outstanding reformed teachers and theologians. Thank you again for your continued support of this ministry

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