1Cor 9:25                              Run to Obtain the Prize                            5/9/2010         ßà   

#1.       Am I Not an Apostle? (1Cor 9:1-6, Acts 1:21-22, Gal 1:12, 2Cor 12:12)

 

 

 

 

 

 

#2.       They Which Wait at the Altar (1Cor 9:10-13, Matt 10:9-11,15)

 

 

 

 

 

 

#3.       Woe Is Unto Me if I Preach Not the Gospel (1Cor 9:14-16, Acts 13:2, Rev 22:18-19, Ezek 14:3, Acts 20:29-31, 2Cor 11:13-15)

 

 

 

 

 

 

#4,       That I Might by All Means Save Some (1Cor 9:19-22, 8:13)

 

 

 

 

 

Please open your Bibles to the First Epistle to the Corinthians, 1Cor 9:1 (2X). In this chapter the apostle Paul defends himself against his adversaries, who claim that he was not an apostle. We could go into all the historical details that are mentioned in chapter 9, but then we need to ask: Now what? What are we going to do with all the historical information concerning his apostleship? Does believing all that save anyone? And the answer is: NO! But the Bible is for people today, and the Bible was written so that men can be saved. And so, let us look at this chapter a different way. Therefore I chose for the title of this sermon, Run to Obtain the Prize (2X), which is taken from verse 24, “They which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize. So run, that ye may obtain.” And so, the practical application of this is that we must know what we are running for, and that we must know what we are obtaining. This is where we are going. This is a long chapter, so I will read it piecemeal. Let us read the first 6 verses.

#1.       Am I Not an Apostle? (1Cor 9:1-6, Acts 1:21-22, Gal 1:12, 2Cor 12:12)

1Co 9:1-6  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? 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. Mine answer to them that do examine me is this, Have we not power to eat and to drink? 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? Or I only and Barnabas, have not we power to forbear working?

The first question Paul asks is, “Am I not an apostle?” His adversaries deny that he has seen the Lord Jesus. As you know, that was one of the first requirements of an apostleship. We read in Acts 1:21,

Ac 1:21-22  Wherefore of these men which have companied with us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, Beginning from the baptism of John, unto that same day that he was taken up from us, must one be ordained to be a witness with us of his resurrection.

And so, only those who companied with the other 11 apostles at the time the Lord Jesus walked on this earth, and who has seen the Lord at the time of His ascension, would qualify to be called an apostle. Obviously, Paul did not walk with Jesus simultaneously with the other apostles. Instead he has seen the Lord Jesus on the road to Damascus, and he was taught by the Lord Jesus when he spent three years in Arabia, as we can read in Gal 1:12. These requirements lead us to conclude that there were only 13 apostles, where Mathias takes the place of apostle number 12, in the place of Judas Iscariot who disqualified himself, and Paul was apostle number 13. Therefore those who today call themselves apostles are fakes, and the denomination that calls themselves the Apostolic Church is a fake. The definition of an apostle is “one who is sent out”, and specifically one who is sent out personally by the Lord Jesus. And in this Paul qualifies abundantly, for the signs of an apostle were wrought by him in many signs, and wonders, and mighty deeds, as we can read in 2Cor 12:12. Then he says in verse 1, “are not ye my work in the Lord?” Look at my work in the church at Corinth, and see if this is not proof that I have been sent out by the Lord. You see, the Judaizers were trying to disqualify him, for they did not like his preaching that the ceremonial law has ended. Then we read in verses 7-9,

1Co 9:7-9  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? Say I these things as a man? or saith not the law the same also? 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?

First the apostle asks, “Who goeth a warfare any time at his own charges?” Is that not a ridiculous proposal? Nobody is that stupid to go to war at his own expense. Now likewise, if Paul was not sent by the Lord Jesus, then all his preaching in Asia and Europe would actually be a war at his own expense. Would that not be a ridiculous situation? The next question he asks is, “Who planteth a vineyard, and eateth not of the fruit thereof?” Who does the vineyard represent? The church at Corinth was one of the apostle’s vineyards. And thus, was he not allowed to eat from the fruit of his labors at Corinth? Do not those who care for the spiritual oversight of the congregation deserve to be fed from the congregation? Does not the law of Moses also teach us this principle? For we read in Deut 25:4, Thou shalt not muzzle the ox when he treadeth out the corn. What does that mean? In other kinds of labor the oxen were usually muzzled. But when they were driven to and fro over the threshing floor in order to stamp out the grain from the chaff they were not muzzled, so that they were allowed to eat some of the fruits of their labors. Now, why did God put that in the Bible? Does God care for oxen or for people? Of course, God intended this rule to apply to those who preach the Gospel. For example, God brought up again this rule in the First Epistle to Timothy. God said in 1Tim 5:17-18,

1Ti 5:17-18  Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine. For the scripture saith, Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn. And, The labourer is worthy of his reward.

And thus, the elders that labor in the Word of God and in doctrine, which means teaching, are worthy of double honor. Does that mean they should be paid? If they do not have any additional income, yes they should be paid. A pastor is a preaching elder. Does this mean that a pastor should be paid? If he does not have any additional income, then yes the pastor should be paid. The apostle Paul did not draw a salary, for he supplied himself an income as a tentmaker. There were many tents in those days, for there were many who could not afford to buy a house. But Paul considered it an honor that he could serve Christ freely, without having to depend on the church for his daily needs. Likewise the apostle Peter urged the elders and pastors of the churches to keep their income modest. He said in 1Pet 5:2,

1Pe 5:2  Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind;

First of all feed the flock of God with spiritual food from the Bible. Take the oversight thereof, not because you have to, but willingly, and not eagerly for base gain. Not for filthy lucre, which means “Do not make it a business for profit,” but take only what you really need.

#2.       They Which Wait at the Altar (1Cor 9:10-13, Matt 10:9-11,15)

1Co 9:10-13  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. If we have sown unto you spiritual things, is it a great thing if we shall reap your carnal things? 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. 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?

In the law of Moses the priests which serve at the altar are also allowed to eat of the sacrifices that are brought to the altar. God brought this in connection with “Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn” and the fact that a pastor should be supported by his congregation. Do not misunderstand me. I am not speaking for myself, but I am speaking on behalf of many pastors of small congregations who have a hard time making ends meet, and I am speaking for any pastor that you would appoint after me. Please put a sticker here in 1Cor 9 and please turn in your Bibles to the Gospel According to Matthew, Matt 10:9 (2X). Let us look at an example of the Lord’s teaching on this matter. We have here in Matt 10 the event where the Lord Jesus sent His disciples out two by two, as a dry run for the work of evangelism that they have to do after He has gone back to heaven. And here is a portion of His detailed instructions to the disciples. We read in Matt 10:9-11,

Mt 10:9-11  Provide neither gold, nor silver, nor brass in your purses, Nor scrip for your journey, neither two coats, neither shoes, nor yet staves: for the workman is worthy of his meat. And into whatsoever city or town ye shall enter, enquire who in it is worthy; and there abide till ye go thence.

In other words, do not bring with you any provisions that you think you need; your daily needs should be provided by your host, And if the city where you are does not want to provide such a host, if it is inhospitable to the preaching of the Gospel, shake the dust off your feet and go elsewhere. We read in  Matt 10:15, “Verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrha in the day of judgment, than for that city.” And so, can we now see where we are going? This chapter began with Paul claiming that he was a true apostle and that he deserved financial support from this church, even though he had not asked for it. This then led into the subject matter of financial support for pastors and evangelists. And why should the congregation be eager to support evangelists? First of all, because the Lord Jesus commanded it. And secondly, because it fits coherently in God’s program for saving His elect. God’s program of salvation most clearly manifests itself in the second commandment. What is:

Please turn in your Bibles in this Gospel of Matthew to chapter 22, Matt 22:35 (2X). The Pharisees were gathered together discussing among themselves how they could trap the Lord Jesus.  Can you see

the ridiculous situation? Men are pitching their mind against God’s mind. Then one of them said in V.35,

Mt 22:35-40  Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying, Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

What do we learn from this? The greatest commandment of all is that we love the Lord our God with all our heart and soul and mind. If this is the greatest commandment, then what is the greatest sin? You guessed it! The greatest sin is not to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, and mind. And if we as Christians claim that we love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, and mind, what then do we do with the second greatest commandment? Are we willing to obey that one also? Please turn a few pages further to the Gospel According to Mark, Mark 12:28 (2X). This was a different occasion where the same question was asked, and we have here a little more information. This time it was a scribe who asked the Lord Jesus about the first and greatest commandment. We read in Mark 12:28-33,

Mr 12:28-33  And one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, and perceiving that he had answered them well, asked him, Which is the first commandment of all? And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these. And the scribe said unto him, Well, Master, thou hast said the truth: for there is one God; and there is none other but he: And to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love his neighbour as himself, is more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.

And so, we are commanded to love our neighbor as ourselves. How does this manifest itself that we indeed love our neighbor as ourselves? This is not some secret love that no one is able to detect. In fact if we indeed love our neighbor, then we would grieve if our neighbor will be sent to Hell. Remember that the Lord Jesus said in John 14:6, “No man cometh unto the Father, but by Me.” It means that no one can go to heaven except by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. And how do they get that faith? God says in Rom 10:17, “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” This is how God works, they must hear the preaching of the Gospel, and if it is God’s good pleasure, God the Holy Spirit will apply this hearing of the Gospel with faith that comes from God. But when the Lord Jesus said “No man cometh unto the Father but by Me” He really meant what He said: No man! Those who have not heard the Gospel, and those who have not believed when they heard the Gospel, are going to a Christless eternity. And so, is this what we wish on our neighbor? Let him go to Hell? But is it possible that he never heard the Gospel? In our days the probability is very great that he never heard the true Gospel, for today many people have been inoculated with a false gospel, where preachers have warned the people not to listen to those who bring a Gospel where they are speaking of election and predestination. And yet, these are the words that we find in the Bible. These are words that characterize the true Gospel that the Bible speaks of. And most of the world has not heard the true Gospel, for either they have never heard of the Lord Jesus, or they have heard of another jesus, an impotent jesus, who would like to save all mankind but he cannot because omnipotent man has thrown a roadblock of unbelief in front of him. It is a jesus who is bleeding on the cross and weeping because most of those for whom he is dying are still going to Hell, for it is only a few that are going to be saved. But you see, the true Gospel has a totally different Lord Jesus in view. Please turn in your Bibles to the Epistle to the Ephesians, Eph 1:3 (2X). We have here a clear declaration from God that we, the people, have no free will. The only free will we have is to sin. We may not like this, but God says in Isa 45:9, “Woe unto him that striveth with his Maker! Let the potsherd strive with the potsherds of the earth. Shall the clay say to him that fashioneth it, What makest thou? or thy work, He hath no hands?” Shall we insult God by saying to Him, “You have no hands; neither am I the work of Your hands.” Shall we insult God and earn the wages of our sin, which is death, the second death in the Lake of Fire? Let us instead read & believe what God wrote in Eph 1:3-5,

Eph 1:3-5 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,

You see, it is His will that decides who will be saved; it is not our will, for our will is only to do evil. We must always remember the words of Jer 17:9, where God gives His estimation of mankind, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” This is how the heart of mankind is by nature, including mine. Only when God works a miracle of love in our heart, only when we are born from above, will we turn to Him with all our heart, and soul, and mind. This is the Gospel that no one has heard. And if we love our neighbor this is what we want to declare to him. We do not know whom God will save, but this is what God commanded us to do, and thus we do it.

#3.       Woe Is Unto Me if I Preach Not the Gospel (1Cor 9:14-16, Acts 13:2, Rev 22:18-19, Ezek 14:3, Acts 20:29-31, 2Cor 11:13-15)

Please turn again to the First Epistle to the Corinthians, 1Cor 9:14 (2X). And so we see where we are going in this chapter. It is a chapter that is actually a plea to all mankind that the true Gospel might be preached, for without it most of mankind will be condemned. We read in 1Cor 9:14-16,

1Co 9:14-16 Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel.

1Co 9:15  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.

1Co 9:16  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!

Even though the Lord has ordained that they which preach the Gospel should live of the Gospel, I have used none of these things”, says the apostle Paul, “and neither have I written these things that it should be so done unto me. I am not asking for a handout, for what I am doing is laid upon me as a necessity.” Can we catch a glimpse of this man’s fervor? Here was a man who was sent out by the church at Antioch in Syria, but actually he was sent out by the Lord Jesus Christ, as the Holy Spirit testified it in Acts 13:2. He understood the Gospel much better than the 11 apostles who remained in Jerusalem, and he knew that if he did not preach the Gospel, then who will tell the world of the great apostacy that was going to come upon the NT church? And so, necessity was laid upon him to preach the Gospel, and make it available without charge. When I started to preach 15 years ago, I realized that the great apostacy was going to come upon the church. But who was there to teach my family the sovereignty of God, and who would warn my family of the true Antichrist, and of Arminianism, and of speaking in tongues, and of Rev 22:18-19, and who was there who was willing to preach that idolatry is to have the idol in our mind, as is written so clearly in Ezek 14:3, “Son of man, these men have set up their idols in their heart, and put the stumblingblock of their iniquity before their face: should I be enquired of at all by them?”. The Christian Reformed Church was greatly deficient in all these things. And so, when the opportunity came to preach in a new church I felt that necessity was laid upon me. “Woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel!” Please turn in your Bibles to the Acts of the Apostles, Acts 20:29 (2X). Let us now look how Paul warned the church at Ephesus. On his return to Jerusalem Paul stopped near Ephesus and called for the elders of the church. At the end of his speech to them he looked them squarely in the eye and spoke the words that have been recorded in Acts 20:29-31,

Ac 20:29  For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears.

What did Paul warn them for? He said, out of your own selves shall men arise to draw away disciples after them. Watch out, for it is surely going to come to pass. Paul was warning them not just for apostacy in the near future, but also for the great apostacy near the end of time. And this apostacy is truly great. When we listen to preaching in churches of our days, it is remarkable that preachers never warn their congregations of the great apostacy. And yet it is all over the Bible, not only in Daniel and Revelation. Paul warned the Corinthian church of this calamity in 2Cor 11, where we read in 2Cor 11:13-15,

2Co 11:13-15  For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.

Satan and all his ministers shall transform themselves as ministers of righteousness. They are going to look like angels of light. They shall claim the blood of Christ. They shall claim that they are servants of the Lord Jesus Christ. They shall promise you heaven on earth. But watch their doctrines, for therein they shall be recognized as false workers. And if we want to be watchful, then we should study our Bibles so that we will be ready when we need to discern truth from falsehood. Please turn again to the First Epistle to the Corinthians, 1Cor 9:17 (2X).

1Co 9:17-18  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. 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.

What will be my reward? It is my honor to make the Gospel of Christ crucified available at no charge. What a contrast to all the preaching that is done today for which the preachers want anywhere between $5 and $25 for each recording. Have they not heard that the Lord Jesus commanded us in Matt 10:8, “Freely ye have received, freely give?” And indeed, the Gospel of salvation must be given freely, just like salvation itself is given freely. Christ gave us the example. And if we run out of funds to give the Gospel messages freely, then we should stop, for it is the sign that God told us to stop. So, what is our reward? Remember, our special rewards are given here on earth, for the life we receive hereafter is entirely by grace. And since it is by grace, there will be no distinction between saints. But our reward on earth is a God given honor and grace to make the true Gospel available worldwide, and to know that Christ is with us all the way, for He is the one whom we honor and glorify in our evangelism. We serve as His ambassadors. If it is a great honor to serve an earthly king as an ambassador in a foreign and strange land, why is it so difficult to see the honor to serve as ambassador of the King of kings and Lord of lords? In fact, it should not be called a sacrifice, but a great honor that He has counted us worthy.

#4,       That I Might by All Means Save Some (1Cor 9:19-22, 8:13)

1Co 9:19-22  For though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more. 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; 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. 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.

What did he say in verse 19? “Yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more.” The apostle takes us back to 1Cor 8:13, where he said, “Wherefore, if meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend.” We see here his willingness to deny himself if he might be the means of benefitting others. On this principle he acted and on this principle he purposed to act throughout his life. And so, when he was back in Jerusalem the opportunity came to act like a Jew by setting himself apart with the Nazarite Vow. Why would Paul do that if he did not believe that the ceremonial law still existed? The reason is given here in verse 20, “To them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law.” Perhaps he is taking the principle of crossing out himself a little too far. And indeed, God interfered. Before Paul could finish the period of time that was required, God made Paul a prisoner of the Romans who occupied Jerusalem. Thereafter he was sent to Rome. But all the time since his conversion in Acts 9, this principle dominated all his actions: “His willingness to deny himself if he might be the means of benefitting others.” But let us now move on to another topic that has been a subject of much confusion.

1Co 9:23-25   And this I do for the gospel’s sake, that I might be partaker thereof with you. Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible.

In verse 24, the words “in a race” are literally “in a stadium”. “Know ye not that they which run in a stadium run all, but one receiveth the prize?” This is referring to Olympic games, or other sorts of games of the same kind. It was a custom to wait till the end of the games, and then the winner received a wreath on his head of olive leaves, or apple leaves, or laurel leaves, or parsley leaves. Now we can understand that this was a corruptible crown. It lasted mostly a few days. From all the runners in the stadium only one received such a corruptible crown. And for this all the runners had to work very hard for at least four years. Now if the heathen work so hard to obtain a corruptible crown, but we will receive an incorruptible crown, should not we work so much harder for our incorruptible crown? And the answer is: Of course we should work hard to please our King and Lord. He has before ordained and prepared the good works for us, that we should walk in them. Nothing could be easier than that. And since it is He who works in us and through us both to will and to do of His good pleasure, we can be assured that all our good works for Him will be approved 100%. We could not wish for a better Master than He is for us.

But what is this incorruptible crown? Some people have imagined that every time they do a good work they earn an extra jewel on the crown they are going to receive in the life hereafter. And so, they are looking forward to wearing a beautiful golden crown studded with jewels, and show off to others how many jewels they have earned during their lifetime. If we think this through, we find that this is actually an awful heresy. First of all, who would want a golden crown in the NH&NE, for the New Jerusalem, the entire city, has been paved with bricks of gold. It would mean that our golden crown is practically worthless. Secondly, why would anyone want to show off their good works in the NH&NE? God says in Isa 64:6 that even our best works are like filthy rags in the sight of God. And God does not mince His words. God says that our best works are like menstrual cloths in His sight. This is what our best works look like on their own merit. And if God first has to clean up our best works, then they are no longer our works but His works. Thirdly, why would anyone want to wear a crown? Is it not sufficient that we would be seated with Christ in His throne, ruling the entire new universe with Him and in Him? We read this in Rev 3:21. And this is an inheritance so inconceivably great that we cannot understand it; and we receive this inheritance entirely by grace. Should we not fall down and worship Him, rather than be proud of our earthly accomplishments? And so, what is our incorruptible crown? Our incorruptible crown is the commendation of the Lord Jesus when He shall say, with the words of Matt 25:23, “Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.” Now this is altogether in harmony with the rest of the Bible. Let me present to you some passages which reflect this kind of a crown; it is the crown of eternal life. 1Tim 6:12,

1Ti 6:12  Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses.

Whereunto thou art also called” These words reflect that eternal life is a gift of God’s grace. Jas 1:12

Jas 1:12  Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.

Only the elect of God are they that love Him. And thus, the crown of life is a gift of grace. 1Pet 5:4,

1Pe 5:4  And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.

Oh! It is a crown of glory. It is not a crown of gold, for that would fade away. Rev 2:10

Re 2:10  Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.

Be thou faithful unto death.” Which human being can withstand the power of Satan? He is more powerful that all mankind combined. He is the great dragon of Rev 12:3-4 who is so powerful that he can drag with him the third part of the stars of heaven. God gave us this imagery to show us that we are in no way able to withstand him on our own. But by the grace of God we are able to be faithful; and only those who are the elect of God are certain to be faithful unto death, for this is what Christ has purchased for us on the cross. And so, we receive the crown of life freely, by grace. Rev 3:11,

Re 3:11  Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown.

“Hold that fast which thou hast.” And what do we have already? We have already the crown of life. Hold it fast. Do not let anyone lead you astray with another gospel, or with another eschatology, or with fearful threatenings of judgment. Instead remember that God says in Gal 1:8, “But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. Remember God’s protection over us, and giving us discernment between good and evil. Praise God for His indescribable gift.          AMEN.           Let us turn to the Lord in prayer.