Posted by: Bill Hornbeck | May 1, 2020

“I have become all things to all men, so that I may by all means save some. I do all things for the sake of the gospel”

Today’s devotion comes from 1 Corinthians 9:19-23.

“For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a slave to all, so that I may win more.  To the Jews I became as a Jew, so that I might win Jews;  to those who are under the Law, as under the Law though not being myself under the Law, so that I might win those who are under the Law;  to those who are without law, as without law, though not being without the law of God but under the law of Christ, so that I might win those who are without law.  To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak;  I have become all things to all men, so that I may by all means save some.  I do all things for the sake of the gospel, so that I may become a fellow partaker of it.”  1 Corinthians 9:19-23.

———————

How do we reconcile Paul’s teaching in today’s Scripture with his opposition of Cephas (Peter) in the following Scripture?

“But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned.  For prior to the coming of certain men from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles;  but when they came, he began to withdraw and hold himself aloof, fearing the party of the circumcision.  The rest of the Jews joined him in hypocrisy, with the result that even Barnabas was carried away by their hypocrisy.  But when I saw that they were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas in the presence of all, “If you, being a Jew, live like the Gentiles and not like the Jews, how is it that you compel the Gentiles to live like Jews?”  Galatians 2:11-14.

Wasn’t Peter being all things to all men?  

The answer is that Paul concluded that “they were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel”?  Galatians 2:14.

We also see in today’s Scripture that the purpose of being all things to all men (“To the Jews I became as a Jew, … to those who are under the Law, as under the Law though not being myself under the Law”) was to save them.

“Give no offense either to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God;  just as I also please all men in all things, not seeking my own profit but the profit of the many, so that they may be saved.”  1 Corinthians 10:32-33.

“…  I also please all men in all things, not seeking my own profit but the profit of the many, so that they may be saved.  I do all things for the sake of the gospel, so that I may become a fellow partaker of it.”  Verses 22-23.

We need to be straightforward about the truth of the gospel, but there are things which we can accept.  

“Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather determine this—not to put an obstacle or a stumbling block in a brother’s way.  I know and am convinced in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself;  but to him who thinks anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean.  For if because of food your brother is hurt, you are no longer walking according to love.  Do not destroy with your food him for whom Christ died.  Therefore do not let what is for you a good thing be spoken of as evil;  for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.  For he who in this way serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men.  So then we pursue the things which make for peace and the building up of one another.  Do not tear down the work of God for the sake of food.  All things indeed are clean, but they are evil for the man who eats and gives offense.  It is good not to eat meat or to drink wine, or to do anything by which your brother stumbles.”  Romans 14:13-21.

Food and drink are only two examples.  There are many other examples of things about which we can disagree with our brother, but which are not important and are not worthy of giving offense.

But, we cannot accept a different gospel.  

“I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel;  which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you and want to distort the gospel of Christ.  But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed!  As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed!”  Galatians 1:6-9.

Notice that Paul stated in today’s Scripture:  “I do all things for the sake of the gospel”.  Verse 23.  In other words, Paul pleased men in all things, so long as those things could be done for the sake of the gospel.  Paul would not accept a different gospel just to please men.

The Scripture that immediately follows the above strong warning of Galatians 1:6-9 is “For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God?  Or am I striving to please men?  If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ.”  Galatians 1:10.

People will only be saved through the true gospel.   

Jesus said both in Matthew 15:9 and Mark 7:7:  ‘BUT IN VAIN DO THEY WORSHIP ME, TEACHING AS DOCTRINES THE PRECEPTS OF MEN.’”

Jesus also stated in John 4:23-24:  “But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth;  for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers.  God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”

Not any kind of worship will suffice, but “worship in spirit and truth”.

“Brethren, my heart’s desire and my prayer to God for them is for their salvation.  For I testify about them that they have a zeal for God, but not in accordance with knowledge.  For not knowing about God’s righteousness and seeking to establish their own, they did not subject themselves to the righteousness of God.  For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.”  Romans 11:1-4.

Not any kind of zeal will suffice, but zeal “in accordance with knowledge”, or in other words, in accordance with truth.

“But we should always give thanks to God for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth.”  2 Thessalonians 2:13.

Not any kind of faith will suffice, but “faith in the truth”.

There are those who “did not receive the love of truth so as to be saved”.  2 Thessalonians 2: 10-13.


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