Sermon from the First Epistle to the Corinthians | Entrusted with the Gospel | 1 Corinthians 9:16-23

Entrusted with the Gospel (1 Corinthians 9:16-23)

As I remember the events around September 11, 2001, my mind doesn’t immediately go to images of planes being flown into buildings or towers crumbling to the earth or the heroism of those on Flight 93 or President Bush’s promise to hunt down those responsible for the atrocities. My mind goes to a young man named Paul.

Paul was a super nice guy who had married one of the Christians where I preached. I visited with Paul a time or two in his home, but I didn’t talk about Jesus. The Friday night before 9/11, the young adults at church had a night out, and Tammy and I sat across from Paul and his wife and had a lovely time.

As much as I liked Paul, he was outside of Christ. The elders and I had talked about Paul, and we had him on a list of folks we wanted to reach.

On September 14, 2001, while the world was still reeling from those dastardly attacks, Paul got up and went to work at a coal mine. I got a call a little while later saying there had been a horrible accident at the mine. When Tammy and I got to the hospital, Paul’s wife was walking out in a state of shock and simply said, “He’s gone.”

The word “lost” immediately came to mind. The elders and I planned to teach Paul the gospel, but we never did. Good intentions don’t make good actions.

Has anything comparable ever happened to you? Have you gone to a funeral and known without a doubt that the person lying in the casket was lost? Have any of you ever been too much of a coward to speak a word about Jesus? Have any of you thought, “I’ll share the gospel with him when I get around to it?”

Paul didn’t make plans to share the gospel; he shared the gospel with everyone he could. In this morning’s text, he explained why he shared the gospel with everyone: God had entrusted him with the gospel.

You are entrusted with the gospel.” God hasn’t put the gospel in your hands in the same way he did Paul’s hands; you’re obviously not an apostle. However, the gospel is in your hands. “You are entrusted with the gospel.

Scripture (1 Corinthians 9:16-23)

verse 16:

“Necessity is laid upon me.”

“Is laid” is in the present tense in Greek; that means necessity was always laid upon Paul.

Paul’s preaching was a “necessity,” for God had not given him a choice. Notice what Jesus told Paul on the way to Damascus: Acts 26:16-18. When God called someone, God did not take no for an answer. Moses claimed he couldn’t speak plainly; God still sent him to Pharaoh. Jeremiah claimed he was too young to be a prophet; God still sent him.

verse 17:

“If I do this of my own will, I have a reward.”

Paul didn’t charge the Corinthians—or anyone else—for preaching to them. If he had chosen to be a missionary, he would have charged.

“If not of my own will, I am still entrusted with a stewardship.”

The Greek term for “not of my own will” (just one word) means to act contrary to one’s own freewill. Paul didn’t mean that God had removed his freewill; instead, he meant that he was a servant simply doing what God told him to do.

Paul had been entrusted with a stewardship. The Greek term “stewardship” refers to the trust given a slave over the master’s finances or house management in antiquity. Paul saw himself as a slave of God who had been given responsibility in God’s kingdom.

verse 18:

Paul’s reward wasn’t monetary; instead, his reward was in preaching the gospel free of charge. Paul had a right to be paid to preach, but he preferred to preach without burdening anyone.

verses 19-23:

Paul would act in any appropriate way possible to win people to Jesus. He started where people were, and he was willing to do whatever it took to reach the lost.


You are entrusted with the gospel.” God plucked Paul up on the Damascus Road and told him he would be an apostle. God hasn’t plucked you up and made you an apostle, but God has entrusted you with the gospel. Therefore, you need to understand:

One: Your Requirement.

You must understand that like Paul you are under obligation to preach the gospel. You must understand that the gospel really is in your hands. What makes you under that obligation?

Jesus commands it.

Before his Ascension, Jesus told his apostles, “Go . . . and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” (Matt 28:19-20). Carefully notice the Lord’s words: Every new disciple was to be commanded to do what Jesus had taught the apostles to do; he had just commanded his disciples to go into all the world with the gospel; therefore, every single disciple today has that obligation. “You are entrusted with the gospel.

The lost are damned to an eternal hell.

A lost person “will drink the wine of God’s wrath, poured full strength into the cup of his anger, and he will be tormented with fire and sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever, and they have no rest, day or night” (Rev 14:10-11). When we talk about sharing the gospel, we are talking about nothing less than heaven and hell.

Do you really want your family or your friends to spend an eternity being tormented without rest in a devil’s hell? That’s what is at stake.

Two: Your Reward.

Paul’ reward was simply preaching of the truth. There is great reward in doing the right thing, and there is no reward like seeing someone you taught obey the gospel and thrive in Jesus.

Yet even Paul looked forward to that great reward God has in store for his people: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing” (2 Tim 4:7-8). One day, if you faithfully serve your Creator (including sharing his gospel), Jesus’s nail-scarred hand will place on your brow the crown of life. Won’t that make all your efforts worthwhile?

Three: Your Rush.

Paul did whatever it took to win people. If people were Jews, Paul behaved as a Jew; if they didn’t have the law, Paul behaved as one without the law. He tailored his method and his message to his audience without ever one time changing truth.

You, too, need to rush into action. It’s fine to talk about winning people to Jesus, but we need to rush to win people to Jesus. “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might” (Eccl 9:10). What will your hands find to do this week? What lost soul will come across your path? What will you do? Will you give a tract? Will you ask someone for a Bible study? Will you enroll someone in World Bible School? Will you offer to pray for someone? Will you invite someone to worship? Rush and act this week as your hands find to do.

What do your hands find to do this very morning? Do they find it necessary to turn to Jesus?

This sermon was originally preached by Dr. Justin Imel, Sr., at Church of Christ Deer Park in Deer Park, Texas.

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