Gospel Coalition Conference – Observation #9

Don Carson’s talk was very good on cultural flexibility – being all things to all men to reach some.  I thought he did a very ample job of making sure that the flexibility is only for the messenger, NOT the message (the gospel) or even the convert (still demanding repentance and faith in Christ alone for salvation).  Here are the (brief) notes on his talk.  I encourage you to go HERE to get the full video.

Don Carson

1 Cor.9:19-23

How do you demand faithfulness and flexibility?

You must flow the argument of chps.8&9.

Who are the weak? (Chp.8)

The issue here is that the exercising of rights must be constrained by understanding the nature of being a stumbling block.  The weakness, then, is in the one who does not have knowledge of the truth to lead to a clear conscience in the manner.  If the mature believer goes ahead and acts knowing there is damage to the weaker brother, they sin against the brother and Christ Himself.

Out of the compulsion of being captured by Christ, Paul DESIRES to proclaim the Gospel of Christ.  He then goes on to describe just how he constrains his personal rights in order to joyfully and willfully make the gospel plain…

1 Cor.9:19-23

1)    Paul has to be flexible because he doesn’t belong to these categories any more

2)    How do you flex to this NOT under the law?  He’s not under the law.  He’s free but He’s not.  Paul makes determination on whether or not to flex according to the gospel.  If there is a demand unto salvation, no flexibility is in order (or associate with those who demand such things).  Where it’s cultural there is possibility given that it doesn’t damage the weaker brother.

3)    Paul has to flex because he wants to win people in all these categories

4)    If you want to flex so the gospel is more accessible to others then understand you have to bring them back to being a Christian.  Every culture has idols.  To follow Christ, idols must be forsaken.  So, be flexible, but call and command the mandate of the gospel.

5)    Paul has to flex because he wants to participate in the gospel category (v.23)


Paul wants to be certain of his own conversion in his actions and his fellowship in the sufferings of Christ.


The flexibility and accommodation in this passage are the flexibility and accommodation of the messenger, not the message OR the convert.

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