FIRE

Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win! All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing. I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified. (1 Corinthians 9:24-27 New Living Translation (NLT)

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith.[1] Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people;[2]then you won’t become weary and give up.[3](Hebrews 12:1-3 New Living Translation (NLT)

In this section of First Corinthians, Paul is answering questions about liberty. Americans are all about liberty, freedom. Inalienable right. Liberty. 

Why is liberty inalienable, absolute, indisputable? Because it is given to all humans by the Creator God. We have freewill. We have liberty. God given liberty.

But!

Liberty must always be regulated by love.

Love is the highest virtue. Faith, hope, love abide forever, but the greatest is love.

Love: the New Testament Greek word is Agapé. Agapé is: 

Radical, 

Scandalous, 

Unconditional, 

Relentless, 

Self-sacrificing, 

Altruistic,

Other-focused,

Cruciform

Covenant 

Love.

God is Agapé.

Jesus is Agapé.

God is exactly like Jesus. There is nothing unchristlike in God.

But, how can God be love? Isn’t love a combination of emotions and actions? How can a Being be love?

Herein lies the essential difference between Christianity and all other religions. Many religions assert that God is omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, sovereign, and holy. 

Only Christianity asserts that God is Triune: Father, Son, Holy Spirit.

God’s eternal essence is a singular loving community, so united as to form a single being joined in an eternal love relationship.

All of our false concepts of God involve seeing God as a singular person: Angry god, judgmental god, distant god, kindly old grandpa god, Santa Claus god, vengeful god – all singular. 

The True and Living God who is pure love created us with freewill. Liberty. There is no real love without the freedom to choose. Law had to be given because of the abuse of liberty. 

But liberty must always be subject to love because love is the essence of God.

We are not at liberty to pollute or exploit the earth because God created the earth and pronounced it good.

We are not at liberty to enslave, use, abuse, kill, dismiss, manipulate, or disenfranchise people because people are created in the image of God.

Love must always regulate liberty.

In 1 Corinthians, Paul speaks of his willingness to give up some of his liberty, specifically, in this passage, his right as a minister of the gospel to expect that the church will take care of his material needs.

He also speaks of being willing to give up anything that hinders the fulfilling of his appointed task.

What he absolutely refuses to give up is his authority as an apostle appointed by Jesus to carry the good news to the world. Paul’s eyes are fixed on the goal. Like an athlete training for the Olympics, he is disciplined, gives up whatever would hinder, and focuses on doing what God has called him to do. 

Paul determined to run the race of life to win. He was determined to lay aside every weight that would hold him back and run with endurance looking unto Jesus.

I am 68-years-old. I am determined to run with all my might for the rest of my life the race God has set before me. God has called and appointed me as a pastor-teacher. Nothing and no one will dissuade me. 

I intend to flameout for Jesus.

With a living coal from off Thy altar,
Touch our lips to swell Thy wondrous praise
To extol Thee; bless, adore Thee
And our songs of worship raise;
Let the cloud of glory now descending
Fill our hearts with holy ecstasy,
Come in all Thy glorious fullness 
Blessed Holy Spirit have Thy way.

Let the fire fall, let the fire fall
Let the fire from heaven fall;
We are waiting and expecting 
Now in faith dear Lord we call;
Let the fire fall, let the fire fall
On Thy promise we depend;
From the glory of Thy presence
, let the Pentecostal fire descend.[4]


[1]Or, leader and perfecter of our faith

[2]Some manuscripts read: Think of how people hurt themselves by opposing him.

[3]Quotations are from the New Living Translation (NLT)Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

[4]Let the Fire Fall, by Henry Tee

About Dr. Larry Taylor

Radical Anabaptist Jesus Freak Red Letter Christian, sailor, thinker, pastor, teacher, chaplain, counselor, husband, father, grandfather

Posted on August 16, 2019, in apologetics, Bible, Bible Teaching, bodily resurrection, Christianity, creation, Jesus, Kingdom Life, kingdom of God, parables, Prayer, Prophecy, Spirituality, Theodicy. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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