Wait on the LORD: be of good courage,
and he shall strengthen thine heart;
wait, I say, on the LORD.
- Psalm 27:14
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How will I exercise my Christian Liberty? 2/05/2012
How far am I willing to go in order to bring people to Jesus Christ? What would I be willing to give up if in order to bring a loved one to Christ? Would I give up my life? Would I? Will I? Would You? Will You?

This question is what the Apostle Paul is discussing with the Corinthians who are suffering from divisions within their congregation(s). Last week we jumped up to chapter 13, and now this week we are going to back up to chapter 9 in order to get a better grasp on this all important discussion that applies so greatly to ourselves in our lives and in our congregations today.

We recall that Paul began this discussion in the 8th chapter by way of introduction in the first three verses:

KJV 1 Corinthians 8:1 Now as touching things offered unto idols, we know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifieth.
2 And if any man think that he knoweth any thing, he knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know.
3 But if any man love God, the same is known of him.

He went on to say that those who have a clear and mature knowledge that salvation is by grace through faith should not be puffed up over those who do not have this knowledge. He referred to the latter as having weak consciences, but weak consciences and all, those people need to be honored by the mature Christians. The principle of being a helper to bring people to a clearer knowledge of salvation by grace through faith is in the forefront here and Paul used the issue of the day to help the hearers work through his explanation. It was not so much about whether to eat or not to eat the meat that had been offered to idols, but it was all about how we use the God given knowledge that we possess. Do we seek to help others who are weak in their conscience, or do we lift ourselves up in our pride and disregard them and their developing walk of faith?

How will we use our liberty/freedom in Christ is the question before us in this meditation.

That is the question that was before the Apostle Paul. At the end of the chapter 8, he made this astounding statements.

9 But take heed lest by any means this liberty of yours become a stumblingblock to them that are weak.
10 For if any man see thee which hast knowledge sit at meat in the idol's temple, shall not the conscience of him which is weak be emboldened to eat those things which are offered to idols;
11 And through thy knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died?
12 But when ye sin so against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, ye sin against Christ.
13 Wherefore, if meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend.

He now shows by his very own life as to what he means when he wrote the last verse. It was not hyperbole by which he was making an outlandish claim as to his spirituality, but he was stating the truth of the matter!! Prayerfully let us read through this 9th chapter, asking the Lord for His Spirit to open us the message for us in our day and in our lives.

KJV 1 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?
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.
3 Mine answer to them that do examine me is this,
4 Have we not power to eat and to drink?
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?
6 Or I only and Barnabas, have not we power to forbear working?
7 Who goeth a warfare any time at his own charges? who planteth a vineyard, and eateth not of the fruit thereof? or who feedeth a flock, and eateth not of the milk of the flock?
8 Say I these things as a man? or saith not the law the same also?
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 oxen?
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.
11 If we have sown unto you spiritual things, is it a great thing if we shall reap your carnal things?
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.
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?
14 Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel.
15 But I have used none of these things: neither have I written these things, that it should be so done unto me: for it were better for me to die, than that any man should make my glorying void.

Paul now uses his life to illustrate that which he had taught concerning the exercising of our Christian Liberty. Paul explains in this chapter that even though he has the right to be paid according to the teaching of Christ, he does not exercise his right in order to not impede the gospel.

This message is not to put the burden on the giver, but this message speaks to the one who is preaching it. It should be that the speaker has the message directed at him so that it is a message for the speaker and not so much about the speaker. .

Paul's main point in this entire discussion is that he has the right to be paid, but he does not exercise it.

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!
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.
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.
19 For though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more.
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;
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.
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.
23 And this I do for the gospel's sake, that I might be partaker thereof with you.


Now in this portion he will explain as to why he chose not to accept payment. As we look at this part, we need to think of how we will use our freedoms responsibly for the impact upon others and their search for life.

15 But I have used none of these things: neither have I written these things, that it should be so done unto me: for it were better for me to die, than that any man should make my glorying void.


Now Paul begins the second half of his argument and now begins to explain as to why he did not exercise his right to be supported by those who are under his ministry. He is ministering in the midst of some people who are suspicious of him, and so that those who are suspicious of him will not have excuse to ignore his message, he does not wish to depend upon them for his pay. He will not be a stumbling block to them. He himself will give them no excuse.

He is yet building upon the concept of the exercising of liberty in their lives. He is using his personal example to illustrate that idea that we all have freedom, but we do not use the freedom for boasting, for personal gain or for selfish reasons.

What is he saying here? It would be better for me to die than that anyone would deprive him of his boasting in that he is not going to use his liberty wrongfully. Is he saying that it would be better for him to die physically than to offend anyone as concerning salvation?


NJB 1 Corinthians 9:15 However, I have never availed myself of any rights of this kind; and I have not written this to secure such treatment for myself; I would rather die than that . . . No one shall take from me this ground of boasting.

We need to understand that the word boast is not always to be taken in a negative manner, but can be also used in a good and positive sense. Here it seems to be that Paul is boasting in the fact that he chose to limit his freedom by not accepting payment from the Corinthians. He would rather die than to have that happen. He would rather die than to have someone offended by his exercising of his right to be paid. His boasting is in his "independence of help from them."

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!
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.
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.

He explains here that the boast is not in that he preaches the gospel, for it is not his idea to be a preacher of the gospel. He is one that is sent, one that was drafted. Being that he was sent, he has no freedom in this area. He is doing that which he has been created for, what he has been called for and there is no provision for the exercising of his liberty or freedom. God gave Paul a significant role, and there is no absolutely not any freedom for him to not preach. This does not say much at all about Paul, but it says everything about God. Here a significant point is coming up:

Those things which God has called us to be and to do really have nothing to do with us, but what is important is that our inner character is seen when we are given opportunity to exercise or not exercise our rights toward others.

We are Christians by God's grace, how will we demonstrate that which we say we possess?


Others will not care to hear how much we know until they know how much we care.

19 For though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more.
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;
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.
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.


He is now moving away from the money topic and he now speaks in general terms. What he is saying that he is free to live without anyone telling him how he should act in life. No one can dictate to him concerning those things that God has left up to the individual conscience. What is he saying here? What does this mean for us today? What does this mean for me? Let us pause here and remember how Martin Luther wrote in a concise manner concerning out topic.

"A Christian is a free lord over all things and subject to nobody. A Christian man is a ministering servant in all things and subject to everybody."

Paul does not say, I let people make a slave of me. But he said, Being free, I made myself a slave.

Love is the motivater that causes Paul to say what he says in these verses.



How do we become as a Jew unto the Jews? We accommodate their traditions and practices, but we do not live as under their jurisdiction. Basically, we understand that they need to hear more of what God says in His Word so that they will be able to see that the things that they now dearly hang onto are no longer in effect. We have much latitude in going along with their way of thinking, but always stopping short of giving them the impression that what they are believing and practicing is according to Scripture.

Those without law are those who are living not under the law of Moses, but yet are under the divine law of God. We seek to understand as to how they think and act according to their current world view. We might say that these would be people who would be non Jewish in practice, but would not necessarily be converting from Judaism to Christianity. They could be called Gentiles, or pagans. Even though they do not understand the divine law of God, they yet have it imprinted in their hearts in creation. How can we seek to reach these people?


Finally, we consider the weak. If we are with a group of people that believe that they can do less than we are able to do in our freedom of conscience, our know that our obedience of God does not consist of what we eat or do not eat. When we are with those people, we will limit our actions so that we do not confuse them with our behavior. We will not purposely offend them with our freedom. If a person is convinced in their conscience that something is wrong and we come over there and totally snub them with our freedom, how will that help them see justification in a clearer manner? It will not.


There are three groups of people that Paul speaks of here. The Jews, those without law and the weak. We understand that the Jew was yet under the law, those without law would most likely be the Gentiles who now were without the law, but yet had come under the law of Christ which is love. The weak Paul has previously referenced in chapter 8 as those whose consciences yet are in a state of maturation concerning to eat or not to eat.

How far am I willing to go in order to bring such people to Jesus Christ? What would I be willing to give up if in order to bring a loved one to Christ? Would I give up my life? Would I? Will I? Would You? Will You?

Let us conclude by summarizing:

Exercising our freedom in love for the purpose of blessing others spiritually:

1. It does not mean pleasing people to make them happy , agreeing with their false religions or their sinful practices.

2. We like Paul, do not use his freedom to make people happy, but we refrain from using it when we have an opportunity to avoid miscommunicating the gospel to them.

3. We like Jesus and like Paul will associate with all groups of people, coming into contact with them without receiving a stain or leaving with them a false impression as to whom we are in Christ so that we may win them for Christ.

4. We recognize that the danger is that may yield too much to love, which then ceases to be love, but becomes accommodation or assimilation.


Eph 4:14 That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;
15 But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:

May the Lord add His blessing to our meditation in His Word this day!

Pastor Orval Wirkkala











Posted on 05 Feb 2012 by Pastor Orval Wirkkala
Love in Action

What is Love?

Dear friend,

"God loves me, God love me, in my Bible book it says that God loves me."

God loves me, God loves you! That is essence the Light of life, in that God through love has given us life so that we would come to live in the knowledge and experience of love! Our text today is from the book of 1 Corinthians 13 which contrasts knowledge and love. Today we want to answer the following questions:

Where is love's starting point?
KJV 1 John 4:1 Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.
2 Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God:
3 And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.
4 Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.
5 They are of the world: therefore speak they of the world, and the world heareth them.
6 We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error.
7 Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.
8 He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.

How was this love demonstrated?
9 In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.
10 Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation (satisfaction) for our sins.

What response does God desire from us
11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.
12 No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us.

God is love, He defines it through both emotion and action and desires that we would come to know and experience this love so that we care and act on behalf of others. We are familiar with the feelings of love through emotion, but often have a difficult time loving through action or through inactions. What is meant by action/inactions?

The terms grace and mercy are connected with God in that grace is defined as God giving us that which we have not earned or deserved, while mercy has a meaning of God not giving us that which we have earned or deserved.

Grace would mean that God sent His Son, mercy would mean that God forgives us instead of condemning us. Jesus demonstrated this by coming to save rather than condemn.

As we consider our text today which contrasts knowledge and love, we must turn back to the eighth chapter, which was our Scripture Reading, in order to get at the beginning of the explanation that Apostle Paul was giving to the Corinthians. The first three verses of this chapter set the stage for the rest of this entire book of 1 Corinthians:

KJV 1 Corinthians 8:1 Now as touching things offered unto idols, we know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifieth.
2 And if any man think that he knoweth any thing, he knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know.
3 But if any man love God, the same is known of him.

In the beginning of this letter that Paul wrote, we see that division among the congregation was the primary problem that is being addressed. It seems that many were embracing the gifts of people as more important than the Giver of the gifts. As Paul works through the various conflicts which always come as the result of people getting things backwards, we come to the 8th chapter in which the topic is the offerings given to idols. It is here that me makes begins this discussion by making an opening statement:

KJV 1 Corinthians 8:1 Now as touching things offered unto idols, we know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifieth.
2 And if any man think that he knoweth any thing, he knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know.
3 But if any man love God, the same is known of him.

We all have knowledge, but knowledge alone puffs up, whereas charity/love edifies/builds up. He goes onto say that if we think we know anything, we do not yet know that which we ought to know. Knowledge that is not used to build up, to encourage or uplift is of no value. Then he says: "We love God, we are known of Him." Essentially, it means that true knowledge of God is founded and grounded in love.

In this chapter, Paul tells them that even though they that have knowledge that idols are nothing and the sacrifices offered to idols have no meaning, there are yet those who do not understand that yet and as a result, they do not have the freedom of conscience to eat of those meats that have been sacrificed. Paul concludes this chapter with the following words

9 But take care that this right of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak.
10 For if anyone sees you who have knowledge eating in an idol's temple, will he not be encouraged, if his conscience is weak, to eat food offered to idols?
11 And so by your knowledge this weak person is destroyed, the brother for whom Christ died.
12 Thus, sinning against your brothers and wounding their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ.
13 Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble.

Here we see the principle illustrated that our Christian liberty is governed and regulated by love for the welfare of our brother or sister. Will my behaviour build up the body of Christ, or will it tear it down?

The theme of love is that Paul is still on as he comes to the 13th chapter. Let us pick up in the last part of chapter 12.

27 Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.
28 And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, helping, administrating, and various kinds of tongues.
29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles?
30 Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret?
31 But earnestly desire the higher gifts. And I will show you a still more excellent way.

ESV 1 Corinthians 13:1 If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.
2 And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.
3 If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.

After pointing of the various gifts that are given by God and given to the body as a whole to be used for the benefit of the body, he again points them back the Giver of the gift and away from the gifts themselves. To help us understand this extremely important truth, let us substitute the word charity/love with Jesus Christ in our first reading, then we will read it as it is. God is love, Jesus is God, therefore Jesus Christ is Love. God acted in love towards the world, we must never never forget that truth.

4 Jesus Christ is patient and kind; Jesus Christ does not envy or boast; Jesus Christ is not arrogant
5 or rude. Jesus Christ does not insist on his own way; Jesus Christ is not irritable or resentful;
6 Jesus Christ does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but He rejoices with the truth.
7 Jesus Christ bears all things, Jesus Christ believes all things, Jesus Christ hopes all things, Jesus Christ endures all things.
8 Jesus Christ never ends.

As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away.
9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part,
10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away.


11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish wys.
12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.
13 So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

God sent perfect/ultimate love to us so that we would see through action what love looks like. When we read verses 4-7 with the name Jesus Christ inserted in the place that love is, we are exposed to the Greatest Love: Jesus Christ. The Gift!!

Let us read it another time, but this time with the text as it is written:

4 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant
5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;
6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.
7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
8 Love never ends.

Now what is my response, your response? For some reason, with the word love in the text, I am inclined to look more at my lack of love than at Jesus Christ's perfectlove for me. That is good, because that is how God wants it. He wants to be aware of our ability to love that we can love through His dwelling in us by the Holy Spirit which shows His presence through actions of love or inactions of love toward self and toward others. When we feel deficient in love, we are not condemn ourselves, but rather we are to be reminded that we are looking to self knowledge and not to God's knowledge. Our self knowledge will lift ourselves up in pride, while God's knowledge which displays itself though love both in emotion as well as in action will lift up our neighbor.

As God through His Spirit consoles us, comforts us and directs us by pointing us to Christ as our all in all, may we be on the lookout for those whom we may show the love of Christ to.

May we today stop and go before the Lord in prayer, asking him to show us those to whom we might show the love that He has for us in and through His Son Jesus Christ. There are those who are around us that need the love of Christ. May we see them today.

Faith and hope will one day not be needed, for they will pass away, but in the meantime together they constrain us to live in love towards ourselves as well as to others.

Who may we show mercy to today? To Whom may we be a neighbor?

In the love of Christ,

Pastor Orval Wirkkala

Posted on 29 Jan 2012 by Pastor Orval Wirkkala

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How will I exercise my Christian Liberty? 2/05/2012
- Posted by Pastor Orval Wirkkala


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