Hold the Fort or Boldy Advance?

Little Round Top! (see Philippians 2:11-16)

  • God is at work, building His church! This He has promised - Matthew 16:18
  • God is at work, transforming His people! This is His doing. Ephesians 2:8-10
  • God is at work, seeking the lost! Jesus came to “seek and save that which was lost.” He came not to be served but to give His life a ransom for many. Matthew 20:28; Luke 19:10
  • God is at work, restoring His glory in all creation!

There are two elements to authentic gospel ministry…
…one objective - the truth of the gospel;
…the other subjective, the act and heart of the proclaimer.

1 Corinthians 1: 21 - “For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know god through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe.”

Perhaps “proclamation” is the idea, for it is not κηρυξις [kēruxis], the act of heralding, but κηρυγμα [kērugma], the message heralded or the proclamation as in verse 23. The metaphor is that of the herald proclaiming the approach of the king (Matt. 3:1; 4:17).

What was preached (the kērygma) is the content of the proclamation. It is not merely the fact that men preach the gospel that is ‘foolish’; it is the gospel itself, the message that God saves us through a crucified Saviour (sic). People do not receive salvation by exercising wisdom. Salvation comes to those who believe (the present tense points to a continuing faith).

Two phrases stand in very sharp contrast to each other, both introduced by διά with the genitive: through wisdom … through the foolishness of what is proclaimed. Hence we have used the English idiom which offers a corresponding emphasis: it was not through wisdom that.… We have also explicated what is clearly the meaning of τοῦ κηρύγματος by rendering it of what is proclaimed.

Commentators from Meyer (1869) to Wolff (1996) and Horsley (1998) emphasize that the phrase refers to the substance of the preaching (Meyer), or the proclamation of the crucified Christ (Wolff). “The word kērygma (KJV ‘preaching’) here means not the act of preaching itself, but the content of that proclamation. This is confirmed by vv. 22–25, which go on to explicate ‘the foolishness of what was preached.’ ” The point is worth making, first because the emphasis falls on the limits of natural human inquiry and discovery. Second, Schrage places the emphasis on the divine decree and its basis, not on the mode of communication as such, and on the difference between gospel proclamation and human discovery.
It has nothing to do with whether the mode of communication is in a pulpit rather than a variety of modes which may or may not include lectures, dialogue, disputation, or living the gospel out.

The objective we know, identify, hear as we open the Word of God. Here by human authors God Himself communicates His mercy, His love, His grace to sinners in the Person of His Son Jesus Christ. This gospel is fixed, eternal, settled, unchanging and magnificent.

Paul in our text notes that he will endure anything so as to not place an obstacle before the gospel of Christ (9:12).

“For if I preach the gospel, that gives me no ground for boasting. For necessity is laid upon me; woe to me if I do not preach the gospel” (1 Corinthians 9:16).

He speaks of “preaching the gospel” (9:16), that “necessity has been laid upon him.”

επικειται, επικειμαι, PrIndAc3Sg, to be placed upon; to press, urge upon, to be imposed on, a necessity.
See Acts 27:20 - “…no small tempest lay on us.” The pressure of a violent tempest that descended on Paul and his shipmates and about which they could do nothing to escape its force.

“Woe is me if I do not preach the gospel!”
ουαι, an interjection communicating great grief if Paul did not (ευαννελισωμαι, ευαννελιζω, AorSubMd1SG) preach the good news.

Why does Paul declare, “Woe is me if I do not preach the gospel?

19 For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them. 20 To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law. 21 To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law. 22 To the weak 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. 23 I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings. 

“That I may win more of them…” (9:19)
“…that I might save some” (9:22).

Beyond this objective reality, the reality that God has spoken His Word, the gospel, there is an internal, subjective, personal reality.

The question we must ask ourselves: “How can Brookdale bring more fruit in people trusting Christ through your witness and testimony in Moorhead MN?”

In the verses that follow Paul is very concerned with this internal, subjective reality. This subjective reality is the possession of a clear, certain disposition, an attitude, a mindset, a motivation of those who proclaim the objective gospel.

The Necessity of the Gospel means urgency, the urgency of preaching the gospel.

We must possess an urgency of heart and outreach!

“…necessity is laid on me…”

Paul declares, “If I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, I’m under compulsion; woe is me if I do not preach the gospel.” If I don’t preach the gospel, no one will be saved; I will win no one. And so, he is not ashamed of the gospel, as he says in Romans 1, for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone who believes – the Jew and the Greek.

The “necessity” is this reality, people, millions and millions, yea billions of people presently living on Planet Earth are lost and apart from God, headed for hell by their own pleasure and will and by God’s necessary eventual judgment. But it is not unknown billions who are lost, but the waitress, the backyard neighbor, close family members, people we know and with whom we possess present relationship.

The “necessity” is this reality—people rushing headlong to a Christless eternity—affecting my heart and mind so that we cannot be silent! We are not silent because we are God’s by redemption in Christ Jesus. God has purposed by His eternal plan that we would be his ambassadors. Cf. Romans 9:1; 10:1

People are lost … moral people, religious people, all races and ethnicity … headed for hell. Reprobates, flagrant sinners are lost, the disillusioned with religion, LGBTQ+, the up-and-outer and the down-and-outer are all lost, headed for hell. Your neighbor, some of my neighbors, the store clerk, the waiter/waitress, the banker, the sanitation worker, the nice, the kind, the ones who are diligent to care for their family responsibly … are lost and headed for hell.

Necessity further, for it is not difficult to speak openly and clearly of someone who has captured our heart, whom we love.

Paul now launches into a seemingly new topic, but not. He begins to address “freedom”, the believer’s “rights” as to personal liberty.

The Necessity of the Gospel requires restriction of personal liberty (9:19-23).

If we will “win some” and “gain God’s approval” we must limit our lives. We must live for the greater purpose of “winning more, saving many.”

Life must be deliberately lived in order to communicate the gospel as widely as possible.

This must include delf-denial. Self-denial is not pleasurable initially nor easy, not a means to show superiority to others or a means of gaining great grace. Rather, we deny personal expression of liberty for the salvation of others.

This is the mission of all believers, of our church. This is the purpose of our church in the world, to “win more, save some.” The church—our church—exists for this purpose.

“I do it all (release my exercise of liberty, accept the conscriptions of various groups of people) for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessing” (9:23).

“Paul would never allow himself, or another Christian in his presence, to use his freedom in any manner that would offend a sinner. This is serious stuff, because this works toward – are you listening? – the salvation of people. If you’re still asking the question of the immature – “What are my freedoms?” – you’re going down the wrong path; you’re going down the path toward uselessness.

You say, “Well, how do I live like this? How do I get to a point where I live self-imposed slavery rather than the self-indulgent freedoms that are not only sort of natural, but I am free after all?”
This is pandemic in evangelicalism today. Everybody chasing freedom as far as they can chase it. How do I go absolutely the opposite direction? It’s not easy. Here’s how, verse 24, “Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win.” He doesn’t state a spiritual truth; he just launches into an illustration” (John MacArthur)

“Have We No Rights?”

The Necessity of the Gospel requires a disciplined life (9:24-27).

We must master our sinful appetites to be approved in life and witness.

We must control resident sin to win more and save some, to be approved by God.

Self-control is for the purpose of wide, free ministry in preaching the gospel!

  • v. 24 - “Run that you may obtain (the prize).” The prize is both the result of our preaching (saving some) and ultimately the approval of God!
  • v. 25 - “Exercise self-control to receive an imperishable reward.” 
  • v. 26 - “We run with purpose!” The purpose is “winning more, saving some!” 

Preaching to others while manifesting undisciplined (ungodly) lives may bring momentary benefit to the hearers but God’s disapproval as His servants.

Paul now amplifies the theme of being approved by God as His heralds and servants.

“Our forbears experienced identity with God’s prophet. They ate and drank by God’s—Christ’s—actual presence (for the Rock that followed them was Christ).

9:27 - “…lest when I have preached to others I myself should be disqualified.”

A pillar value, pursuit and reality of every believer and every church is the “Necessity of Gospel Proclamation, for God is seeking sinner through the life and witness of His people!”
Necessity is laid upon us…

“…that we may win more of them” (9:19)…
“…that we might save some” (9:22).


  • …the religious and the secular…
  • …the wealthy and impoverished…
  • …those seeking and those fleeing from God…
  • …Democrats and Republicans…
  • …Socialists and Capitalists…
  • …NY Yankee fans and Minnesota Viking fans…
  • …church-attenders and concert-goers…
  • …Jew and Gentile…
  • …the respectable and moral…
  • …doting parent and child molester alike…
  • …people, billions of people are lost, heading for God’s eternal judgment.

See 2 Thessalonians 1:7-9!!

Necessity is laid upon us.

This is God’s purpose in our world, in our church, that “we might win more”, “save some.” The pastor’s job, this preacher’s job, the missionary’s job, every believer’s responsibility, for necessity is laid upon us. Woe to me if I don’t preach the gospel.

“If sinners be damned, at least let them leap to Hell over our dead bodies. And if they perish, let them perish with our arms wrapped about their knees, imploring them to seek You. If Hell must be filled, let it be filled in the face of the labor of our witness, and let not one person go unwarned into eternity, for whom we have not prayed or shared Christ” (C. H. Spurgeon, edited des).

***Preached by David Strope, GARBC National Representative

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