A friend of mine fell off a cliff once. His name was Ian and he fell off the top of Hellvelyn in the Lake District. A group of us watched as the mountain rescue volunteers carefully climbed down the cliff to the ledge where he had landed and hoisted him up with ropes. Saving lives is not easy! Rescuing people is hard work! Snatching people from the jaws of death can mean putting our own lives at risk!
Saving people from hell will not be easy! So the apostle Paul says, I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some.
“By all possible means” – Saving people by doing WHATEVER IT TAKES! “Any which way we can.”
And we do whatever it takes because God was prepared to do “whatever it takes” to save us! God gave His only Son. Jesus was rejected and betrayed and tortured and crucified so we could be saved. On the cross God the Son was cut off from God the father by OUR SIN so we could be saved. God has already done “Whatever it takes” to save us – so we much do whatever it takes to communicate the gospel to this lost world.
WOE TO ME IF I DO NOT PREACH THE GOSPEL
1 Cor 9:16 Yet when I preach the gospel, I cannot boast, for I am compelled to preach. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel! 17 If I preach voluntarily, I have a reward; if not voluntarily, I am simply discharging the trust committed to me.
This is not just for the Apostle Paul but for all of us. God has entrusted his whole church with preaching the gospel.
In Mark 16, Jesus commands us: “Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation.”
Matthew 28:19 “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.
These commands are for ALL Christians! But to follow the commands of Christ:-
We need to become ALL THINGS TO ALL MEN
19 Though I am free and belong to no man, I make myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. 20 To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. 21 To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. 22 To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some.
WE BECOME “ALL THINGS TO ALL MEN.” – v. 22b
What did Paul mean when he said he became “all things to all men”? Let’s begin with what he did not mean.
Paul did not compromise the message of the gospel in any way.
Paul did not change the truth in the least way in order to satisfy anyone.
Paul was not a chameleon who changed his message and methods in each new situation.
Paul was not a compromiser who adjusted his message to please his audience.
Paul was saying that he would do whatever it took to help bring someone to Christ, any which way he could. He would stoop to any level necessary without compromising the gospel.
Paul would give up any rank or privilege he might have had so that he could share the life-changing good news of Jesus with someone who was lost.
Paul lived his whole life doing whatever it took to share the gospel with those who were lost.
Paul “became” all things to all people. That change didn’t happen immediately. It was a process that took time, but it did happen!
If the apostle Paul became all things to all men, doing whatever it took, what does this mean for us?
It means that if we want to see more people come to know Christ, we must get out of our comfort zones.
It means that we can never be satisfied with the status quo – there are always others who haven’t yet been saved.
It means that we look at our lives to see what opportunities God has given us to use for Him.
It also means that we ask God to show us new ways that we as individuals and as a church can reach out to those who are lost in our community and world.
19 Though I am free and belong to no man, I make myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible.
We do not always do a good job of serving others. We can forget that we follow Jesus, who came not to be served but to serve and to give His life as a ransom for many.
20 To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. 21 To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law.
We need to understand where other people are coming from. What their starting point is. We need to understand their questions and their hang-ups so we can explain to them why Christ really is the answer.
22 To the weak I became weak, to win the weak.
So often the church has proclaimed the gospel from a position of safety and security. To reach people who are hurting and vulnerable we need to become vulnerable and risk being hurt ourselves. Too often the church has proclaimed the gospel from a position of power. To reach the powerless we must be prepared to become powerless.
All things TO ALL MEN – TO ALL PEOPLE 22b
EVERY PERSON = because all are lost without Christ – destined to face eternal judgment without Christ!
That means that as a church, we need to be open to being more creative and cutting edge as we pray about and envision new ways to reach all people with the Gospel.
New ways of doing evangelism.
New activities and events to make bridges into our community.
New places to do missions and ministry.
Because there are so many people in North Springfield who have NO contact with any church at all. People who will NEVER walk into a church service. People who don’t have friends who are Christians. People who will never be touched by any of the activities any of the churches are running! Teenagers who have nowhere to go between school and bedtime. People who work hard all day and then relax together in the evenings in places where Christians never go. Other people who begin their social lives at the time the rest of us are going to bed. DINKYs – Dual Income No Kids Yet. All things to all men – we need to take the gospel to where all these kinds of people are! We need to do “whatever it takes” to save some!
I heard this the other day. “We must welcome people as Jesus welcomed them, rely on the Holy Spirit to convict them of sin and leave it to God to be the Judge.”
We must be sure to welcome EVERYBODY! But even more than that. So often the church has said “come to us”. Jesus says “go to them”!
“How far would world communism have progressed
If all the party had done was hold “You need Lenin” meetings in the Kremlin?”
ALL POSSIBLE MEANS 22c
Most of us are pretty stuck in our ways, but if we really want to win the worldly, we have to be willing to change some things, to give up some of our “rights”:
• Our “right” to associate only with people who are like us
• Our “right” to be comfortable
• Our “right” to relaxation
• Our “right” to spend our money however we want
• Our “right” to determine our own schedule
• Our “right” not to be bothered
God calls US to do “whatever it takes” to share the gospel here in Chelmsford.
RUN TO WIN THE PRIZE!
24 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. 25 Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last for ever. 26 Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. 27 No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.
We should not treat our Christian faith like a hobby – but as the most important thing in our lives. Like an Olympic athlete preparing to compete for the gold medal.
26 Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. I’m no shadow boxer!
We should treat evangelism THAT seriously, because it is THAT important!!
I have never done anything courageous to anybody’s life. I have put a few fires out in my time. Like the time in our church In Borehamwood when the next door neighbour threw a faulty blowtorch out of his window which landed in a pile of old tyres and gas canisters against the fence. A friend and I used a fire hose and extinguishers to put out the fire before it set light to our church building. We didn’t stop to think what would have happened if the gas cylinders had exploded. At the time, to save damage to our building, the risk seemed worth it.
One of the leaders of that expedition on Helvellyn was a physics teacher called John Pickup. He was a skilled mountaineer. A few years later he was walking on a mountain when his dog fell off the edge. John climbed down to rescue the dog, but lost his footing and fell to his death. At the time, to save the life of a dog, the risk seemed worth it.
Lifeboats don’t just go to sea when all is calm and sunny. Lifeboats go to sea when the conditions are at their worst, when nobody else with any sense would be out at sea. Because those are very often the times when lifeboats are needed! Lifeboat men show incredible courage in dangerous weather. To save human lives, the risk is worth it.
God does not ask most of us to put out fires, or climb dangerous mountains, or sail treacherous seas. If you were walking beside a river and saw a person drowning you might not feel confident to dive in and save them. But if you were standing beside a life belt, surely you would throw the lifebelt into the water to them.
Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel! God calls ALL OF US to become all things to all men, so that by every possible means we may save some! Will YOU do “whatever it takes”???