Category Archives: 2 Corinthians

Affirming the Call of God

Title: Affirming the Call of God

Text: 2 Corinthians 8.16-24

Introduction: We’re in 2 Corinthians 8.16-24 this morning. Turn there.

Answering the Call of God upon one’s life can be the most exhilarating and adrenalin pumping adventures for any man. It is scary and exciting all at the same time. The journey begins with humble commitment and unrealistic expectations. I suppose the same goes for missionaries and other types of call.

But it gets hard through the years because the church often times feels it must keep a tight budget. Pay raises are passed over and excused as budget cuts. Church members try to run a faith budget like their home or business. Added to this, no one keeps track of the minister’s days off (except for maybe his wife, who feels defenseless in speaking up about either the finances or the workload) and so he works too many days without taking the break he needs. Many men of God feel overworked and underpaid.

Church members feel that the call of God weighs heavily on the person’s life and that they’re called to serve – they’ve been called to ministry, not to money. The pastor and his family are made to feel out of place and awkward if they even talk about money.

Isn’t it odd how the church wants men who’ve been to school – who have a Master’s Degree or even a Doctorate, but they want to pay those men like they’re high school dropouts?

Anybody getting uncomfortable? Are the A/C’s working ok? Is it getting warm in here?

There are hard issues in calling someone to commit to this ministry. Aren’t there? You’re getting something very special here in calling this family. What will you give in return?

How Special, you might ask: The elders and the search team feel like we’ve found you the very best man for the job. That’s not hyperbole. That’s not exaggeration. We’re so excited to present this young man to you. WE believe we’ve done due diligence in ferreting out this man from the crowd of applicants. Furthermore, we believe Duffey to be an answer to the prayers we’ve offered. We believe this is God’s man for this position.

I’m not slamming any of the other applicants. There were some quality applicants. And I’m sure God has great plans for those people; however, we believe God’s plan for Calvary is this man. It began for us as elders a couple of years ago and has grown to this point. We done our best to follow God’s leading in this area. Nearly 2 years later, we’re standing here in front of you guys with a confident assurance that God has brought us to this place.

Transition: So, what do you do as a church with this information? How do you behave and act toward someone being called as Pastor of Worship and Students?

A Brief look at the Reformation:

Historically, the Pope and his Bishops did all that. The Pope basically issued orders ex cathedra and the people followed. Martin Luther and John Calvin rose up against that very thing in a little movement called the Reformation. Luther taught that Christians should gather, not at the call of a particular man (pope or priest), but that they should gather around their shared convictions. That was huge! Unheard of!

Ill.: Ignaz Semmelwiess had a revolutionary idea for doctors. As a physician himself, it was something he began to do in his practice – and his patients faired well because of it. He, however, was opposed and ostracized. His views were seen as unscientific. The mistreatment he experienced from his fellow physicians was so great and so overwhelming that he was forced from his practice. Decades later, as doctors began to see the wisdom in what he had done, they began to adopt this new practice of his. But he wouldn’t live to see it. He died in an insane asylum years before.

What was his crazy idea? Simply this: wash your hands before visiting each patient. That’s it. Wash your hands in between patients.

App.: many of you would be grossed out if your doctor didn’t wash his or her hands when they came into see you. But that’s because it is accepted today.

And it is that way as you vote today. It should feel natural. Christians in the 1500’s would be aghast!

Luther believed that Christians should organize themselves as their own final authority in religious matters. Next month will mark 500 years since this radical new teaching. You practice it today, but it was born out of the Reformation and established under much persecution. Luther believed firmly that the Bible teaches what we call ‘congregationalism’. We are governed as a Congregation. Luther and many of the Reformers believed that the sheep know the Shepherd and identify his voice. John 10.4-8

When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.” This figure of speech Jesus used with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them.

So Jesus again said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them.

Jesus warns the believers about false teachers and the fact that they have the ability to do something about it.

Cf.; Mt 7.15: A Tree and Its Fruit 15 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. 18 A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.

We see this set out plainly for us in the pattern for selecting deacons. Acts 6.3-4: Therefore, brothers, pick out from among you seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we will appoint to this duty. But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.”

I love this: YOU pick. We’ll put them to work. When Luther wrote about these new ideas and practices in 1523, he entitled his tract, A Christian Assembly or Congregation Has the Right and Power to Judge All Teaching and to Call, Appoint, and Dismiss Teachers, Established and Proven by Scripture.

You must understand how radical this was in 1523. The Reformation had been gaining ground over the past 100 or so years to be sure, but to pick and choose your leaders? That was a radical reformation. And just how did Luther accomplish such a feat? He translated the New Testament for the people to study these very doctrinal issues in their own language.

This doctrine of Congregationalism began gaining momentum through the 1600’s as John Cotton, John Owen, and Thomas Goodwin advocated for “the Congregational way.” By the time of the American Revolution, a full 40% of Christians in the American Colonies was in a congregational church.

So what do we do with this gift of self-governing? We choose. You chose your deacons. You chose your elders. Sure, it all begins with a sub-committee of sorts doing the hard labor of research and organization. But in the end, you listen to the voice of the Lord and affirm God’s will in this matter.

There was something going on in the life of the Church that we find is very similar to what we’re doing here today. 2 Corinthians 8.16-24 is about a collection taking place throughout Asia Minor and is being carried to the brothers in Jerusalem and Judea who are in need. That is the context. But here is the application:

God is at Work in Duffey’s life and in the life of our church. This is evident when you…

  1. You Affirm him through your vote.
  2. You Appoint him to his service.
  3. You Support him in accomplishing the ministry

Transition: let me show you where this is in the passage…

I. Your Affirmation of Him with your vote (16-18)

exp.: rd v 16; God was at work in the life of Titus, placing deep within him, a care and a concern for the people. God has been at work in the life of the Henderson family. At sometime in the past, he put a deep desire for ministry in Duffey’s heart. God called him to this service. Furthermore, God is calling him to serve here. That is being demonstrated through a passion for leading in Worship and ministering to our Students. Your vote today affirms the Call of God to this place.

rd v 17-18; It is so hard to explain the passion in one’s heart when God calls. It moves men to service and surrender. The passion for ministry is something that burns deep within. It is a felted thing, but evident in one’s actions. By your vote, you affirm

  1. His Call to this ministry
  2. His Passion for this ministry

t.s.: 2ndly,

II. Your Appointment of Him to this Ministry (19-22)

exp.: rd v 19; As your leadership, we’ve done what we believe is God’s will for Calvary. We have not entered this lightly. We have bathed this in prayer over the past two years. We’ve cast vision and dreamed dreams. We made PowerPoint presentations of how to realign staff and reorganize our ministry to accommodate the needs of the church. We’ve evaluated our situation and found it lacking. Stability has been the answer we’ve come up with and Stability is what we’re trying to bring about. We believe God has brought us to this place. Not just over the past 2 years, as this began for us in October of 2015, but even over the past 10 years. We believe and understand that God has been at work in the life of our church all along, bringing us to this point.

And so we present Duffey to you. But, like the Church at Corinth who had to appoint men to do the work that they couldn’t do, you must appoint Duffey to this ministry in our congregation. We present him to you for this appointment because we’ve found him to be of sound character and high moral value.

Note what Paul says of Titus and Epaphras; rd v 20;

  • Blameless; rd v 21
  • Honorable; rd v 22a
  • Trustworthy: Tried and Tested; rd v 22b
  • Full of Faith – con: with; fidere – faith.

app.: His presence here today with his wife demonstrates his confidence in you. He loves the ministry and mission you’ve displayed and have been active in. He and his wife have spoken highly of what you’ve been doing. We as a team have heard them. They are so excited about the opportunities to serve with us – helping us accomplish the ministry God has called us to.

t.s.:  Which brings me to my last point this morning. God is at Work in Duffey’s life and in the life of our church. This is evident when you…

  1. You Affirm him through your vote.
  2. You Appoint him to his service.
  3. You Support him in accomplishing the ministry

III. You Support Him in Accomplishing the Ministry (23)

exp.:rd v 23-24;  It excites me to think of this young man coming alongside me in ministry… to be my partner and fellow worker for your benefit. Which makes me think of a few cautionary points.

Benefit here doesn’t mean that your work is done. He is not here to do your work – the ministry God has called you to accomplish. He is here to benefit you, not take your place. His presence and ministry should augment what we’re doing here at Calvary. I’ve experienced this first hand when I accepted a call some years ago. The team that brought me in just disappeared. They felt their work was done.

I know you have worked hard, but now is not the time to disappear. Now is the time to rise up!

2nd, We (the elders) don’t believe that because God has brought Duffey, Calvary will now grow to a thousand. Our baptistery will not overflow because Duffey Henderson is leading our Students. Our coffers will not overflow with money because Duffey Henderson is leading our Worship. That’d be nice, but your elders don’t have some “if you build it they will come” mentality. We don’t think Duffey is the Savior of the World. No, that position has already been filled and will never be vacated!

Conclusion: Howard Hendricks, Living By the Book (as quoted by Chuck Swindoll)

A scientist was using the inductive method to observe the characteristics of a flea. Plucking a leg off the flea, he ordered, “jump!”

The flea promptly jumped.

Taking another leg off, the scientist again commended, “jump!”

The flea jumped again.

The scientist continued this process until he came to the sixth and final leg. By now the fleet was having a little more difficulty jumping, but it was still trying.

The scientist pulled the final leg off and again order the flea to jump. But the flea didn’t respond. The scientist raised his voice and demanded, “jump!” Again, the flea failed to respond.

For third time the scientist shouted at the top of his lungs, “jump!” But the hapless flea lay motionless.

The scientist then made the following observation in his notebook: When you remove the legs from a flea, it loses its sense of hearing.

app.: Funny how the scientist didn’t connect the dots correctly… we’re worried that you might think like that scientist. Baptisms, Financial blessings may come and they may not, but don’t connect the one with the other. God’s blessings are God’s blessings.

Still, Your support of Duffey is vital to the accomplishment of this ministry. You call him, you appoint him, you support him. You support him with your words, your presence, and your money. You support him by loving his wife and their children. Pay him well and make sure he is keeping the Sabbath.

Duffey’s success is dependent upon you.

We’re going to move to a time of business now. We’ll take a few moments for folks to leave if they’d like. If you’re a guest, you’re welcomed to stay if you’d like, but please feel free to slip out if you’d like. As for our membership: we’ll take a couple of minutes to break (go to the bathroom or get a drink) and then we’ll regroup for our special called Business Meeting.

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Filed under 2 Corinthians, Calling, Commissioning Service, Faithfulness, Leadership, Sermon

2 Corinthians 13.1-14

Title: Closing Words

Text: 2 Corinthians 13.1-14

Introduction: (Turn on Recording) I ended my message last week with a challenge to keep the church pure. With all that is happening in America today, there is an even greater challenge before us. The once highly thought of church was influential in effecting its culture. Having napped away much of the last 50 years, it is time for us to get busy – and that busy-ness had better be the business of the Kingdom.

Paul concluded last week’s passage with the warning that he was coming soon. He will re-iterate that today. He says in 12.20f he has fears…rd 20-21; Now he says in 13.1a: This is the third time I am coming to you. There is this anticipation of his return.

Ill.: Pause for a moment and think about that. Do you know what it is like to anticipate someone coming to your house? What about family that hasn’t been in a couple of years? This year the Christmas party is at your house? Do you clean up a little? Decorate? I know of a lady who would change out pictures when she had family from another state come to visit. She took those family members and put them in strategic picture frames. After the family left, she put the pictures she wanted back in!

Paul says he’s coming – giving them fair warning; however, he does more than announce his coming –

  1. He makes a promise to them that when he gets there he is going to exercise some church discipline against those who are in sin and/or condoning such worldly behavior.
  2. He applies some pressure to the church membership to do some examination – a testing of itself to see if it is indeed in the faith.
  3. He tells them of his prayers for their restoration

Transition: let’s begin with this section – His promise.

1.     Paul’s Promise: to bring church discipline by Christ’s power to those who are still in sin (1-4)

exp.: rd v 1b; Deut. 19.15; here Paul quotes from the LXX; every word must be established by two or even three witnesses. He says simply here: I plan on doing just that! rd v 2; I’ve warned you before that when I come again – well, I’m coming again. Now know, when I get there – I will spare no one. Every charge laid against you will be done properly and in order. We’re going to exercise some church discipline, and for those who live like they don’t know Jesus, will be treated like that. rd v 3-4; You want some proof – I’m bringing it!

app.: sounds like a threat – uh-uh; it’s a promise!

t.s.: Now Paul plays off of a word he’s just used to apply some pressure… Let me show you what I mean…

2.     Paul’s Pressure: to the church to test and examine itself, to see if it is indeed in the faith (5-7)

exp.: rd v 5a; Two words – Examine & Test; I like Test for the first word; the NASB puts it this way. For the 2nd word, test here in our text, we see this same word in the verse above, verse 3; I like prove; Prove yourselves! Read the rest of v 5-6; he uses this word a 3rd time, with the negative alpha as a prefix; 6 lit.: I expect (8.5) you will know (γινώσκω) that we have not disproved; i.e.: failed the test; And as you take this test, It is my deepest desire that you’ll see we have passed that test! How is this? Actions prove you’re a believer and actions prove you’re not a believer. Paul is saying that love isn’t what you say, it’s what you do. This lines up with his preaching in Acts 26. 19-20: 19 “Therefore, O King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision, 20 but declared first to those in Damascus, then in Jerusalem and throughout all the region of Judea, and also to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, performing deeds in keeping with their repentance.

Jesus taught the same message in Matthew 3.8 and Luke 3.8: Bear fruit in keeping with repentance. Paul’s saying the same thing here: you should be able to identify followers of Christ by the fruit of their lives.

ill.: Now, here is where you put part 1 and part 2 together. And the practice of these two is called Church Discipline: someone becomes a member of the church (any local congregation); they say they believe like we do; they get baptized and they begin serving in our local church. But then one day, they begin acting like the world: rd 12.20-21; Well, when you notice a Christian acting in a non-Christian way, then you approach them privately, so as not to embarrass them. This gives them a chance to repent. If they do, you set it aside and forgive them. Everything moves along, as it should. No one has to know.

Can I point something out to you? At this point, if you see a brother or sister living in sin and you don’t go to them, but rather go to other believers to seek advice – you are now in sin – you are the one acting like a non-believer. Rd 12.20; if you’re right about the brother in sin – you are now gossiping. Cf. 12.20; if you’re wrong – that’s called slander! Cf. 12.20;

Ill.: I broke down between Casper and Shoshone: a bar in the middle of nowhere. My transmission went out – only worked in 1st gear! My truck go me 10 miles to the next stop – a bar. True story.

Now, let’s say you do this right and the brother or sister likes their sin and doesn’t want to repent. Now we have a problem. Here is where Paul’s statement comes into play. You now go to the elders. Really that is where it should go. The elders then can confront the person with you. At this point, if they refuse to repent – that is, if they fail the test of faith, then the matter should be brought before the church.

app.: Jesus said in Mt 18.15: “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. 16 But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. 17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.

t.s.: So, 12.19-13.6, give us a manual for church discipline. Paul moves now to his prayers for them.

3.     Paul’s Prayers: for the church is it’s full restoration. (7-10)

exp.: rd v 7-9; for their restoration; no matter how things appear, in weakness or in strength, Paul prays that they get this and are “restored”; in the literal sense, this word means training or When it’s used as a medical term in classical Gk literature, it means to set a broken bone; it’s a hard word to translate into English because of what it means;

ill.: When you read Matthew 4.21, you get a little idea of the meaning of this word: 21 And going on from there he saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets, and he called them. Mending; the NIV – preparing; In Eph 4.12 we read: to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ; When you consider a broken bone being reset, restoration works; the same with mending nets – they’re restoring them, so to speak. It can mean completion or even perfection;

app.: Here’s the thing – they’re not where they need to be, like an axe that isn’t sharp, or a knife that has become dull, like nets that have been torn – someone has to work on these tools to make them useful again. That’s what Paul is praying for – their restoration.

t.s.: Finally, Paul winds down his letter with 6 commands…

Conclusion (11-14)

exp.: rd v 11-14; 6 commands – imperative verbs;

  1. Rejoice – (pres act imp)
  2. Be restored; perfected (pft pass imp) – complete; you remember, this is his prayer for them.
  3. Comfort (encourage) one another; one word in the Gk – παρακαλέω; (pres pass imp) – so it’s not so much that you are the catalyst for encouragement and comfort, but rather you’re comforted and encouraged by others. Footnote #2: listen to my appeal. Implies that the passivity on the part of the Corinthians is their encouragement from Paul.
  4. Agree with one another: Lit.: Have the same mind.
  5. Live in peace (be at peace);
  6. Greet one another with a holy kiss. Do you guys know Johnny Beard. I wish he was here today! (mid voice, imp) do this for yourself; How does greeting someone with a holy kiss, help you? This really helps you and your attitude toward one another. So, what would be the equivalent today? Praying for someone – daily.


  1. Nothing is more important than relationships. Relationships are the core foundation for the body. Worship (leave your gift at the altar – go and be reconciled to your brother); Evangelism (by this all men will know you are my disciples, if you have love for one another); discipleship is relationships;
  2. Church purity is vital. No church membership means no accountability.
  3. Church discipline is necessary. None of us is perfect and we all need each other to help us along.
  4. Jesus is coming soon. Paul has given them ample warning – he’s coming and he’s cleaning house. I think that is so apropos with regard to this present topic – Jesus is coming again, too. Are we ready?
    1. As a body?

As individuals?

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Filed under 2 Corinthians, Church Discipline, Church Membership

2 Corinthians 12.9-21

Title: Called Out to Be Different

Text: 2 Corinthians 12-11-21

CIT: Paul concludes this passage with a review of his apostolic superiority and the sacrifice he has made to bring them the gospel and establish them as a church. His biggest fear is returning to them to find they are still like the world.

CIS: We are reminded of those who serve and sacrifice as God has called. Furthermore, we are reminded that we’ve been called to be distinct and different from the world.

Introduction: In Acts 8.1, we see a young man named Saul who was quickly rising through the ranks of the Sanhedrin. Zealous for his faith and powerful in his position, he traveled near and far to persecute those who were creating a cult religion from his religion. Stamping her out and purifying his religion were his goals. He was faithful, loyal and dedicated. He was also wrong.

Then, something incredible happened to him: he met Jesus and everything about him changed. Faithfulness, loyalty and dedication still characterized his life; however, Jesus had changed his manner. It became most evident in the change of his name. Saul means demanded or desire. Paul means little or small. No longer would Saul make demands as a zealous leader. From now on, he goal for purification of the church would come through different means.

v 9-10; I am reminded this week that the church has been at its strongest when she was weakest in the world. When she has power in the world, when she has influence through numbers, she becomes weak and idle, napping away in the light of God’s love. She is arrogant and haughty. But, when she was reduced to numbers of people who felt the scorn and shame of bearing Christ’s name, then, she was weak and feeble in the eyes of the world, but powerful in her service and sacrifice to God. That is when she became most useful to him.

In today’s passage, Paul repeats much of what he’s said throughout his letter. It’s what you do when you come to the conclusion of your paper or message. Tell them what you are gonna tell them. Then tell them. Then, tell them what you’ve just told them. Here is his conclusion – his epilogue to his foolish speech:

  1. His Claim to Apostolic Superiority
  2. His Courage in Apostolic Sacrifice
  3. His Concerns in Apostolic Sincerity

1.     His Claim to Apostolic Superiority (11-13)

exp.: rd v 11a; forced means pressed; ‘between a rock and a hard place’; rd 11b; inferior; means to come up short; Romans 3.23; 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 2 Cor 11.5 & 9; need; in v 11-13, there are two ways it looks like he comes up short compared with these super apostles:

  1. Is in comparison to their abilities and
  2. In comparison to their abundance provided by the church.

exp.: he then explains to them that they are wrong by both accounts; 1. By signs and wonders and power (might deeds) – and 2. He wasn’t a burden to them;

  1. By signs and wonders and power (might deeds); spiritual side (v 12); this is a clear indication that it is God who is working; we have an example in the Exodus (Deu. 26.8) God brought them out with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm; with great deeds of terror and signs and wonders. 6.27: 27 He delivers and rescues; he works signs and wonders in heaven and on earth, he who has saved Daniel from the power of the lions.” Paul is reminding them God has displayed his power through the Apostle Paul – and they were witnesses to it. 2ndly…
  2. He wasn’t a burden to them; physical side (v 13); Listen, to be in the ministry costs money. There is food, shelter, transportation costs; etc.

ill.: I’ve been blown away at the added expenditures we’ve incurred to send missionaries to our UUPG. What a great reminder that we have others on staff serving for us that we need to care for.

app.: Church, I’m done with this point, but don’t let this teaching moment flee from your minds. Let’s not be like the Corinthians who neglect Paul’s needs. Think of those who serve you and care for them. The UUPG missionaries: We don’t want them to be a burden to the people they serve. Kristin: she ministers to our children and many other children who aren’t members here.

t.s.: Paul opens this section with a reminder of his apostolic superiority, established through his work…2ndly,

2.     His Courage in Apostolic Sacrifice (14-18)

exp.: rd v 13a; This is the third (time) I have prepared to come to you. Really? We actually have no record of this other visit in Acts. And this has led some scholars to say that what Paul means is that this is the 3rd time he has readied or prepared himself to come for another visit. But this doesn’t line up with 13.1-2; read; I can see how someone might take 12.14 and make it fit that way, but 13.1-2 takes too much work to change. I think it’s best understood as Paul wrote literally: This is the 3rd time I’m coming to you; as I did when present on my 2nd visit;

One more word about this: we don’t have to have a record of this 2nd visit outside of this letter. After all, we didn’t have many of the events Paul describes in chapter 11 – concerning his suffering. My guess is that Paul made a quick, painful visit to Corinth while he was serving in Ephesus on his 3rd MJ.

exp.: Then Paul gets to the heart of the matter; rd 14b: And I will not be a burden, for I seek not what is yours but you. The word burden has the connotation of weighing down; as in a beast of burden whose load is so heavy, it cannot carry it; however, the etymology of the this word shows that it eventually come to mean in Paul’s day, a financial burden – having such a debt to carry that it weighs one down. And You see this financial meaning illustrated as he continues in 14c; For children are not obligated to save up for their parents, but parents for their children.

He explains this more fully in v 15a; spend and be entirely spent; exhaust; then, he asks a series of rhetorical questions:

  1. If I love you more, am I to be loved less? 15b
  2. Did I take advantage of you through any of those whom I sent to you? v17
  3. Did Titus take advantage of you? Did we not act in the same spirit? Did we not take the same steps? v18

ill.: Its as if Paul is saying: I have sacrificed so much for you and will sacrifice more – how can you not see that? This is exactly what Paul says Christ did in 8.9: For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich. He was spent out entirely on our behalf.

app.: Can we stop and rest on this truth for a moment? Apostolic Sacrifice is often overlooked. Those who have been called and commissioned to serve are often taken advantage of and then discarded when the church is done with them.

Ill.: Please allow me a bit of transparency and honesty here. When I took my 1st pastorate in Wyoming, my greatest fear in following this call was that I would give all of my life in service to the church – spending my strength and energy, the vitality of youth, only to be discarded when I was older and weaker. At times that still takes over my thoughts: that I would sacrifice for you in so many ways while I am younger and stronger – then, when my energy would get lower and my mind not as sharp; when the church would be strong and healthy, you would forget those years of service and cast me aside for some younger, smarter, more talented preacher.

App.: but I am reminded often of my hero: Jesus. Think about the Calling of Christ – Sent by the Father; He humbled himself and was obedient to the will of the Father; abandoned by the very ones who called him Lord, he died on a criminal’s cross and was buried in a borrowed tomb; He is the picture of sacrifice on so many levels. He is Paul’s hero, too – the man he has attempted to pattern his life after.

t.s.: His Claim to Apostolic Superiority; His Courage in Apostolic Sacrifice; and finally

3.     His Concerns in Apostolic Sincerity (19-21)

exp.: He genuinely loves them! He has sacrificed for them; He has demonstrated his calling and commission before them through signs and wonders. Now, he asks them another question: rd v 19a; Lit.: defense in the Gk is the word from which we get apology. Don’t confuse them – he’s not using apology like we think of as “I’m sorry”. An apology is a defense for why you believe what you believe. But he clarifies: that is not what I’m doing here! Rd 19b; κατέναντι θεοῦ ἐν Χριστῷ λαλοῦμεν· Lit.: over and against (position or place) as in the opposite side; i.e: before God in Christ we speak. Rd 19c; and why? To build you up – like a house; οἰκοδομή – to build a house.

ill.: We’re not trying to defend ourselves for what we’ve done. No, we’ve done what we’ve done because we are building a house here – and you are that house. So we see his sincerity, now look at his concerns: rd v 20-21;

exp.: what a word for us today… my concern is that the church will be acting like the world! In

  • Quarreling, jealousy, anger, hostility, slander, gossip, conceit, and disorder
  • Impurity
  • Sexual Immorality – πορνεία; All forms of sexual misconduct – adultery; Fornication; Incest – 1 Cor 5; And homosexuality.
  • Sensuality
  • Practice – same word we have for the Book of Acts: The Acts of the Apostles.

app.: The church is not to ACT like the World! We are to act – practice Christianity. We repent of murder and impurity and sexual immorality and sensuality. It does not matter if the 5 Supreme Court Justices make a law saying that marriage is contrary to God’s Law. We obey God’s law. I declare publicly that I will not perform nor sanction homosexual marriages. Nor will I condone the killing of unborn babies – even if it is the law of the land. And furthermore – I will continue to proclaim this Word – that we has a church have a responsibility to abide by it’s laws over and above the laws established by 5 misguided justices.

But let’s remember the context: Paul is talking to the church, telling them to act like Christians. And, for those who don’t act like Christians – they will not be accepted in the church. The world is going to act like the world. We, however, have been called to come out from among them and be different.

ill.: Friday, when the SCOTUS issued its decision on homosexual marriage, I felt strongly that I should make a statement as pastor and for my congregation. I cannot begin to fully express my deepest disappointment, in spite of the fact that I was already pretty sure it was coming, when 5 non-elected individuals decided to redefine what marriage has meant for 5,000 years. This is what I wrote:

As a disciple of Christ who has established God’s Word as my standard, I cannot agree with the decision issued today by the Supreme Court of United States. The marriage of a man and a woman was instituted and sanctioned by God in the first two chapters of Genesis. Neither the state nor the nation has the right to redefine that standard of one man and one woman being joined together in holy matrimony. The marriage bond itself was created to be a picture of the gospel and of the relationship between the Lord Jesus Christ and his bride, the church.

It appears now that the law of the land will be to recognize homosexual unions as the new standard for marriage. However, as believers, we must obey God rather than mankind. Regardless of the SCOTUS redefinition of marriage, as followers of Christ, we should proclaim the traditional definition of marriage as given by God. Nowhere in Scripture does God endorse same-sex marriage. In fact, there are multiple passages that condemn homosexuality in both the Old and the New Testament.

The message of the Gospel is the forgiveness of sin through Jesus Christ. The truth of the matter is we are all sinners in need of God’s forgiveness. No matter how sin is redefined, it doesn’t take away the need for forgiveness. Without the grace of God, we would be doomed to live out our lives blindly – following our own passions and pleasures. But God, in his infinite mercy, was gracious to us and not only showed us our sin, but offered us a way to find forgiveness from our sin. If we remove the need for forgiveness, then there is no hope and no Good News in our message for a lost world.

Therefore, we will show the grace and love of God to others, while taking a stand for traditional marriage, by openly proclaiming His message of repentance and the forgiveness of sin in Christ Jesus. While it is true that we disagree with others about same-sex marriage, we understand they need to be shown the same unconditional love that Christ has given us.


  1. We don’t respond as the world does.
  2. We take care of those who take care of us.
  3. We make every attempt to keep the church pure.
  4. We show the love of Christ in all matters.
  5. We stand for the Truth and on God’s Word no matter what anyone else does. We’ve been called out to be different and to be distinct.


How do we know if we’re doing this? Paul tells us in the next chapter, as he concludes this letter (and we’ll look at this in greater detail next week) to examine yourselves: see if you past the test. Are you in Christ, is Christ in you?


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Filed under 2 Corinthians, Church Discipline, Evangelism, Gay Marriage, Homosexuality

2 Corinthians 12.1-13

Title: God’s Amazing Grace

Text: 2 Corinthians 12.1-13

Introduction: In 2 Corinthians 12, Paul touches on the grace of God for us. There is no definition here – at least not in words that are meant to define it for us.

I’ve been thinking of the words – the way to explain the grace of God. And words fail me. I hate, I abhor the idea of leaving it to experience alone. However; if you consider God’s grace – words alone cannot draw into visibility the incredible vast expanse of his marvelous grace. And, when you experience it, you’re left with a sense of having been overtaken – overcome – overwhelmed.

God’s Grace – his Amazing Grace is perfect in timing. It is measured out to the one in need completely. Its not that there isn’t anymore of God’s Grace, it’s that his Grace is sufficient. You don’t need anymore. You can’t do without any less.

There is no far-seeing shoreline to outline the boundary of his Grace. It’s like being adrift in an ocean. No, it’s like treading water in an ocean of grace. It’s consuming and engulfing at the same time. Trying to explain it like you can contain it is useless – it’s defeating.

It is experienced – a felted thing. And what’s more is that it is delivered without payment to the recipient. Its expense is incalculable and yet available to the poorest in spirit.

Here in 2 Corinthians 12, it looks like Paul is boasting; however, a closer look shows us that he is not boast at all, but rather letting us get a look at Grace from a distance – from a high height that will show us God’s Grace. At first, we see Paul just treading water, but as we pull back, we’re allowed to see the big picture. It’s as if Paul disappears and we’re left with a view of the ocean – the ocean of God’s grace.

We begin in v 1; rd v 1; lit.: It is necessary to boast. It isn’t profitable or beneficial to Paul. He’ll gain nothing from it. We don’t now it yet, but we will. His boasting must continue – to move on to visions and revelations.

And then he tells us of a personal experience – in the 3rd person. We know it’s him because of v 7; Paul does this because his story to us will unfold like a play – like a set of scenes, or acts, or movements. The first act is all about God.

1.     It is God who acts for his purposes and his glory (2-4)

exp.: rd v2-4; I know a man; this man; this man in v 5; This man is Paul; cf.: v7; he was ἁρπάζω; Raptured, caught up; My favorite: snatched away; That’s the picture of the graverobber in 1 Thessalonians 4.17: 17 Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. Paul was snatched up to a place called the 3rd heaven or paradise. Three questions come out of this small bit of information.

Q1: When did this take place? He gives us a time frame; 14 years ago; But, I’m looking for the event. Given of what we know about this letter, we can safely assume that Paul is talking about the year that Barnabas found him and took him to Antioch and the time he spent in Antioch. Some have assumed he was talking about:

  • When he was stoned and left for dead outside the city
  • When he was in a trance
  • Or when he had the Macedonian vision
  • However, none of those fit the time frame Paul gives. So, we must assume it was about the time he began his service in Antioch.

Now, let’s talk about paradise or the 3rd heaven for a moment. I know you probably have questions and I doubt that my quick look at this will suffice. So, let me keep this brief and encourage you to do your own Bible study:

The Third Heaven:

  • Does not indicate that there are three levels (Jehovah Witnesses)
  • Heavens is plural in the Gk probably because of the Hebrew is plural (šhā·mǎyim)
    • There is the idea that there is the expanse above us where the clouds are and the birds fly –
    • 2ndly the stars and outer space
    • 3rd – a spiritual level; neither space nor locale; 10.14 gives us the heaven of heavens; 14 Behold, to the Lord your God belong heaven and the heaven of heavens, the earth with all that is in it.


  • Paradise is understood to be synonymous with The Third Heaven; it is true that many scholars think this is a 2nd rapture; Origen thought Paradise was a place on earth – the garden of Eden perhaps, guarded by an angel with a flaming sword. I don’t think that. These sound like one and the same.
  • Paradise is used 3x’s in the NT: here; Luke 23.43; Rev 2.7 – each reference indicates the place where God is.
  • This is the same word used in the LXX for the Garden of Eden – the place where Adam and Eve walked with God until they rebelled and were cast out.
  • So, I think we can surmise from this that Paul, using the 3rd person terminology, was snatched away into the presence of the Lord.

There are probably some more questions: Like, What did he see and hear there? How long was he there?

1st, he doesn’t know if he was physically, bodily resurrected or if it was spiritually – an out of body experience.

2nd, he doesn’t tell us that he sees anything.

3rd, he does tell us that he heard things, but for whatever reason, he is not allowed to repeat to us.

ill.: I’m reminded of Revelation 10 and the 7 thunders. We know of the 7 seals and the 7 trumpets and the 7 bowls and plagues; however, when it comes to the 7 thunders, we’re left in the dark. Evidently, John saw and heard things he was not allowed to repeat. And when the seven thunders had sounded, I was about to write, but I heard a voice from heaven saying, “Seal up what the seven thunders have said, and do not write it down.”

app.: so, here is what I think we’re supposed to get from this passage so far: God acts for the purpose of his glory. That is what he is concerned about. He’s not concerned with what others think about you or me. Our glory isn’t his goal. And the same goes for Paul. He is working in Paul’s life doing what Paul needs. Paul will work and give all the glory to God.

t.s.: There is a problem that arises when we as humans have these supernatural experiences: An Act II, if you will – and that is…

2.     Man’s tendency is toward intercepting that glory (5-6)

exp.: rd v 5-6; Paul’s got his head in the right place, and we’ll learn why in a moment; for now, note the tendency to boast about such experiences; that is what we do as humans.

Paul will boast only in his weakness; however, for the moment, he’ll keep this boasting within limits; I think there are some good reasons for this:

1st, we can easily take the supernatural experience and set it up as a standard.

ill.: Someone speaks in tongues. Lets say its Phil Baker. Everyone is impressed. All of the sudden, there becomes this standard that others must have this experience. Another speaks in tongues and so there are now two people above everyone else. It becomes like a special club and everyone then wants to join that club.

I remember once sitting in a group of pastors. There were about 8 of us. We had come together to encourage each other and to build a bond of unity in our community. Many evangelical denominations were represented amongst these men. On this particular day, at this particular meeting, a new pastor was introduced. It was his 1st meeting. One of the Pentecostal pastors asked him if he had been baptized in the spirit. It was if he already knew the answer and had sensed it. When this young pastor affirmed that he had indeed been baptized in the Holy Spirit and that he spoke in a prayer language, it was if these two were somehow higher than the rest of us. We were welcomed there, but until we were to have this experience, we would somehow be inferior in rank.

1st, we can easily take the supernatural experience and set it up as a standard – using it to elevate ourselves above others.

Allow me to share a deeply personal story: I can see where God has supernaturally interposed himself into my life at the most important times. When asked of these times, I felt special – even superior. I’m ashamed of that. What God gave to me and what he did for me were exactly what I needed to be here today to preach his word boldly. These Supernatural experiences from decades ago have sustained me thus far. And, I suspect it will deep into the future. If I’ve shared these experiences with you to make myself appear to be holier than or more blessed than you – I was wrong. And, I’m deeply repentant of that. Please forgive me.

2nd, I think that speaking of these experiences is like casting pearls before swine. I now understand that. These gifts are pearls – not to be discarded carelessly before others who couldn’t care less. These experiences become fodder at parties to throw around and make fun of Christianity.

app.: Man’s tendency is toward intercepting that glory which only belongs to God – either for glorifying himself or for purposes of ridicule and persecution. Furthermore, for our instance here, it appears that these super apostles are doing just that.

t.s.: So why hasn’t Paul done that? Why hasn’t he ‘glorified’ in his experience? He tells us next. I call this movement:

3.     God’s Grace is seen in his intervention into our attempt to steal his glory (7-10)

exp.: We see ‘purpose’ in what God is about to do – we find reason in the actions of God; rd v 7a; conceited is a compound word demonstrating an elevation of someone to an overly high position; here, meaning conceited in thought – whether of Paul, himself or, of others who might hear of this vision and revelation. And, why “conceited”? rd 7b; because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations…the Gk word here is ὑπερβολῇ or hyperbole. This word means just what it says: surpassing greatness. We often times use hyperbolic language to describe something way beyond what really happened for exagerated effect. I’m starving to death! I’m dying of thirst! He hit that baseball a mile! He’s shooting the basketball from the rafters! Paul isn’t using hyperbole – that’s an english term we get from this Gk word.

This vision is so incredible, God chooses to humble Paul. rd v 7c; a thorn was given me in the flesh; what in the world does that mean? Many guesses have been made; however, Paul tells us a little; rd 7d; a messenger of Satan to harass me; Just what is this thorn?

  • Tertullian is the 1st to mention it. He was around a little over a hundred years after Paul. He says that tradition passed down for that 1st hundred years was that Paul suffered from a recurring earache or headache. Yo un dolor de cavessa. I have a pain in my head. Na neun mori apa yo.
  • If you take the Gk lit.: a messenger (angel) of an adversary. It could mean people making trouble for him. This makes sense in that the highest high for a preacher would be a supernatural experience from God. The lowest of lows is when people within the church torment us. And yes, I mean tormented. There have been incredible acts of evil within the body toward pastors.
  • Others have said it was his eyesight. Namely from Galatians: you would have gouged out your own eyes for me… see with what big letters I write. You probably remember in Acts, when he was brought before the High Priest: “Brothers, I have lived my life before God in all good conscience up to this day.” And the high priest Ananias commanded those who stood by him to strike him on the mouth. Then Paul said to him, “God is going to strike you, you whitewashed wall! Are you sitting to judge me according to the law, and yet contrary to the law you order me to be struck?” Those who stood by said, “Would you revile God’s high priest?” And Paul said, “I did not know, brothers, that he was the high priest, for it is written, ‘You shall not speak evil of a ruler of your people.’ ” Now, how could he not recognize Ananias? Paul was a part of this group years earlier. Answer: Poor eyesight.
  • Bishop J.B. Lightfoot in his Commentary of the Epistle to the Galatians writes that interpretations vary throughout the history of the church as ‘in the Apostle’s temptation a more or less perfect reflection of the trials which beset their own lives.” We think that whatever we suffer from must be what he suffered from. A former pastor of mine once said that the thorn in the flesh was deacons! I leave that pastor unnamed…
  • The truth is that God has left us in the dark as to what this ‘thorn in the flesh’ was.

app.: what is important in this sentence is the part that is repeated twice: Do you see it? to keep me from becoming conceited… when God works in and through our lives in miraculous, supernatural ways, it can lead to boasting. How many of us as teachers and preachers, men of God, have taken glory for ourselves that was only intended for God? Just as we get cocky and conceited, God is so good about humbling us – and showing us that none of this is really about us.

t.s.: So we have God’s Action for his purpose and glory; our tendency to steal that glory; and God’s intervention to keep us humble. Next, we see God continuing to act.

4.     God’s Great Grace (8-9)

exp.: rd v 8; 3x’s; I’m guessing there were 3 different season of prayer and fasting, pleading with God to remove this thorn. This is mirrored in Christ prayer in the Garden? Do you remember how he ended that prayer? Nevertheless, not my will, but your will be done. Rd v 9a; Paul quotes Christ and brings this boasting around full circle – back to his weaknesses. Lit.: Sufficient for you is my Grace; And continuing literally: for my power in weakness is perfected (completed). τελέω, it means like reaching a goal. Rd v 9b; gladly there in the English, is the sweet or sweetness; What a great perspective: it is a sweet thing for Christ to be glorified in my life.

app.: Aren’t you glad for his mercy? What if he did to us as we deserved? What if he gave to us according to what we really deserve? Anytime we wanted to touch his glory, what if he treated us as we deserve? Isn’t that really what Adam and Eve did? Your eyes will be opened and you will become like God…


Wonderful the matchless grace of Jesus, deeper than the mighty rolling sea; higher than a mountain, sparkling like a fountain, all sufficient grace for even me.

Broader than the scope of my transgression, Greater far than all my sin and shame, O magnify the precious name of Jesus, Praise his name.

Wonderful grace of Jesus,
Greater than all my sin;
How shall my tongue describe it,
Where shall its praise begin?
Taking away my burden,
Setting my spirit free;
For the wonderful grace of Jesus reaches me.

Conclusion: we end with how it should be (10-13)

exp.: read v 10a;

  • Weaknesses
  • Insults
  • Hardships
  • Persecutions
  • Calamities

10b; For when I am weak, then I am strong. It could be translated: For when I am weak, then I am able. Rd 11-13; Well, there you have it: I have made a fool of myself on your behalf!

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Filed under 2 Corinthians, Boasting, Sermon

2 Corinthians 11.16-33

Title: A Necessary Foolishness

Text: 2 Corinthians 11.17-33

CIT: Paul has suffered greatly for the mission he was called to accomplish.

CIS: Paul’s reason for boasting should remind us that God works through our weaknesses.

Introduction: A few years back, a man stopped by the church and wanted to visit. He told me his name was Beatty and that his dad had been the pastor of Calvary back in the late 40’s maybe the early 50’s (48-51?). He asked many questions and left after a short tour. He was just a little boy when his dad was pastor at Broadway and Bow.

I’ve often thought of him and wish I had got some information from him. Like, where is he today? What about his siblings? Pastor Beatty was the senior pastor of Calvary during some of its largest attendance days. I’ve heard numbers of over a thousand! Even 1,500! I would love to see some definitive numbers.

Just curious: How many of you here were members of Calvary in the late 1940’s? Recognize them.

Transition: In our text today, Paul is going to boast about his work. He does this in some ingenious ways.

  1. 1st, he introduces us to his sarcasm.
  2. Next, he establishes his station in life.
  3. Then, he employs a form of boasting familiar to the Greeks, but with a twist: He’ll focus on his suffering.
  4. Finally, He concludes with his service, and makes note that his service has always been through weakness.

Transition: let’s begin with Paul’s use of Sarcasm.

1.     His Sarcasm (16-21)

exp.: rd v 16-18; Very well then, if boasting is what I must do, then I will do it! It’s not the way Jesus would respond; but for me, it is a necessary foolishness; rd 19-20; I can do this because you know how to put up with it: Why, You’re so brilliant that you put up with fools while they take advantage of you. Rd v 21: to which he is saying, “Oh poor me, I was too weak to enslave you and exploit you by taking full advantage of you! I should have been stronger than that!” You can see his sarcasm. Some scholars think that stories got back to Paul of these super apostles actually getting them to do all of the work and using up their resources for their own benefit. Taking such great advantage of them that one of them actually slapped one of the members in the face!

ill.: We can see this possibility in Acts where Paul was order by the High Priest to slap Paul (23.2); And of course, with Jesus as well (John 18.22); Maybe these super apostles were taking such advantages of the Corinthians, even to the point of mistreating the membership.

app.: If this is true, it adds to Paul’s sarcasm: I was too weak to slap you around and enslave you for my purposes!

t.s.: From his sarcasm, Paul moves to what I call His station.

2.     His Station (22-23)

exp.: rd v 22-23; note 4 questions frame our outline:

  • Are they Hebrews? This deals with the Religious part of who he was; a Hebrew of Hebrews; training under a famous scholar, Gamaliel; Acts: I am a Jew, born in Tarsus in Cilicia, but brought up in this city, educated at the feet of Gamaliel according to the strict manner of the law of our fathers, being zealous for God as all of you are this day.
  • Are they Israelites? Israelite; of the Tribe of Benjamin; Ethnicity; born a Jew – both mom and dad are Jewish; he spoke Aramaic and Hebrew and Greek! He was well educated in the Scriptures in any and all languages where copies of God’s Word could be found.
  • Are they Abraham’s Offspring?
    • John 8.33ff; in the famous discourse with Christ; Jesus says: If you were Abraham’s children, you would be doing the works Abraham did…;
    • And in Romans 9.6-8 Paul wrote: For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel, and not all are children of Abraham because they are his offspring, but “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.” This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as offspring.
    • Abrahamic Covenant; not just born into it, not just studying in it, He’s a part of the lineage; He would later write that not all who are from Abraham are Abraham’s descent. Believers are a part of this, too. He would tell the Galatians: 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.
  • Are the servants of Christ? I love the picture the Gk paints: Lit.: Servants of Christ are they? παραφρονῶν λαλῶ; I must be out of my mind to talk this way! ὑπὲρ ἐγώ; I am hyper! Lit.: above and beyond. My service goes above and beyond theirs. I think this has two implications; 1st, that he is
    • A Believer: someone who comprehends the work of Christ and the redemption that comes through that work. And 2ndly,
    • A Minister – someone who has been called into service; namely, someone who has received a commission to go, proclaim and disciple.

ill.: sounds similar to Phil 3.5-6;

app.: Well, they’ve received the same calling, surrendered to the same mission; however, there is more to this calling than meets the eye. To talk about it is really crazy, but nonetheless, he must.

t.s.: So, he uses Sarcasm and he notes his Station of prestige in relation to these other super apostles. Now, he dives head first into how “hyper” – far above and far beyond – his service takes him…

3.     His Suffering (24-29)

exp.: Look with me at how Paul breaks down his suffering. He breaks down his boasting into three categories flowing between physical mistreatment by others to natural disasters or tragedy.

1st he uses the form of repetition; rd v 24-25;

2nd he uses the word ‘dangers’ to mark his struggles on many of his journeys; Rd v 26

3rd he employees two words: toil and hardship (κόπον ἡμῶν καὶ τὸν μόχθον)·

1st he uses the form of repetition; rd v 24-25; Physical Mistreatment; Gal 6.17; “Let no one trouble me, for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus”. I guess so.

This portion of his argument is framed in terms of repetition: 5x’s; 3x’s; once; 3x’s; D.A. Carson says that this threw his detractors off. Paul uses a familiar form of boasting by following a particular outline – Res Gestae Divi Augusti which translated means: the deeds of the divine Augustus. It reads like this: Twice I received triumphal ovations. Three times I received curule triumphs. Twenty times and one did I receive the appelaiton of imperator…” In following this form, Carson writes that Paul was expected to say:

“I have established more churches; I have preached the gospel in more lands and to more ethnic groups; I have traveled more miles; I have won more converts; I have written more books; I have raised more money; I have dominated more councils; I have walked with God more fervently and seen more visions; I have commanded the greatest crowds and performed the most spectacular miracles.”

Instead, Paul goes in a direction they’re not expecting. Now, obviously, there are experiences here we’ve not heard about in the book of Acts; for example: We only know of 1 time that he was ship wrecked; And, if I’m right, it’s after this letter is written. Furthermore, if you trace his missionary journeys, you’ll see he was on a boat at least 9 times in the book of Acts. And, Phillip Hughes (NICNT) says there are at least nine other voyages from place to place subsequent to the writing of II Corinthians and prior to the Malta shipwreck.

ill.: Pastor Saeed Abedini, in an Iranian prison, was recently beaten. Again. This comes from the website of the ACLJ (the American Center for Law and Justice) it was posted 4 days ago.

Wednesday of last week, fellow prisoners viciously beat American Pastor Saeed Abedini in prison.

Unprovoked, fellow prisoners  attacked Pastor Saeed as he attempted to leave his cell, punching him in the face near his left eye and nose.  In addition to physically beating the persecuted pastor, prisoners demolished a small table Pastor Saeed used to study and read.

As he was attacked, Pastor Saeed called out for help.  Iranian prison guards did intervene and prevent further injury.  However, Pastor Saeed suffered injuries to his face – his eyes beaten black and blue.  He was able to be seen briefly by a prison doctor, and thankfully he did not receive any broken bones.

This wasn’t the first time he was beaten.  Over the course of his nearly three years in prison, he has suffered numerous beatings, including from prison guards.  He has sustained internal injuries that require surgery.  With each beating, his condition worsens.  Even before this most recent beating, Naghmeh testified about the toll it has taken on him, “I’m not just worried about his physical pain, but his psychological [pain].”

He is suffering because of his Christian faith, beaten and bruised for the Gospel. Pastor Saeed was able to recount this beating to a family member in Iran who was able to visit him today and see his injuries first-hand.

2nd he uses the word ‘dangers’ to mark his struggles on many of his journeys; Rd v 26

  • Note the Dangers:
    • Natural Disasters
    • Human Disasters

3rd he employees two words: toil and hardship; v 27

And then to top off his physical pain and suffering, he adds a phrase, I think goes unnoticed: rd v 28;

  • Mental Anguish:

ill.: as a young pastor, I was asked if I would meet with someone. I, of course said yes. As the visiting moved along, this man I was meeting with told me of a bank account in which he had saved up enough money for his funeral. Then he told me he wanted me to have access to that account because he was going to end his life. When I told him I had a responsibility to get him help, he threatened to leave my office and go home and take his life in front of his kids right then. If that happened, he said it would be my fault.

That experience plunged me into a deep depression that took me three days to climb out of. I mean for three days it was hard for me to function. We were able to work through that tough experience in his life – but I was scared.

Three times I have been asked by members of 12 step programs to be their 5th step – the one to whom confession is made. Two of those experiences did much the same thing. I was tossed into a sea of depression. I heard confession to evil that I didn’t even know existed. Just standing here thinking about it … hurts.

app.: Paul is letting the Corinthians (and us) know that there is a psychological side to ministry that bears such a heavy load – and it is inexplicable – unexplainable.

t.s.: He concludes this section by saying: 29 Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is made to fall, and I am not indignant? We see his sarcasm, his station, his suffering, and he closes with his service – the way it has been even from the beginning…

4.     His Service (30-33)

exp.: rd v 30-31; it’s kind of an odd statement for us, but I don’t think so from him and his readers; for them it was a way of signing his name to what he’s just said – something akin to us putting our hand on the Bible and having someone ask us: Do you swear to tell the whole truth and nothing but the Truth so help you God? I do. here Paul is declaring that his entire service has been in weakness; it even started that way. Rd v 32-33;

Application: We’ve not experienced these things and we don’t really even know anyone who has. So how does this apply to us?

  1. The struggles of life should become the altars of praise. This past week, during my morning reading time, I read about David and had an insight I’d not really grasped before. David sinned a great sin against God by having a census taken of the people. He knew it was wrong. He was counseled against it by his friend, Joab. But David would not listen. God sent an angel of the Lord to draw his sword against Jerusalem and some 70,000 men died from pestilence. David saw the angel there – 16 And David lifted his eyes and saw the angel of the Lord standing between earth and heaven, and in his hand a drawn sword stretched out over Jerusalem. Then David and the elders, clothed in sackcloth, fell upon their faces. 17 And David said to God, “Was it not I who gave command to number the people? It is I who have sinned and done great evil. But these sheep, what have they done? Please let your hand, O Lord my God, be against me and against my father’s house. But do not let the plague be on your people.” You know the story. David was told to go and sacrifice to the Lord. He purchased everything needed to do so and sacrificed to the Lord. Then, The LORD told the angel to put his sword back in it’s sheath. Then in 2 Chronicles 22.1 it reads: Then David said, “Here shall be the house of the Lord God and here the altar of burnt offering for Israel.” Now, I knew that story and that was how the Temple got to it’s location. Repeat: But somehow I missed that it was the struggle of life that brought an altar of praise.

It makes me wonder about this place. How did it get here? What happened here a century before we got here. Did someone dedicate this land to God, even before there was an Old Jacksonville Hwy? I don’t know.

  1. Do you know that you enjoy this facility at the expense of others? To quote: We stand on the shoulders of Giants. Many have worked hard to have what we have. It may seem that others take advantage of our generosity, but I don’t think those who’ve sacrificed see it that way. This ministry exists because of the faithfulness of many believers who have kept it going for many decades now. Many of those believers are dead now. There are some still here. And, should you remain faithful, you’ll be a part of that group of witnesses who surround us now.
  2. How have you expressed your gratitude? My I propose something? This year marks 125 years that Calvary has existed. It is the 2nd oldest Baptist church in Smith County. There aren’t too many churches with a longer history. It was established in 1890 and was a mission of First Baptist Church. It was called North Tyler Mission. I propose we celebrate. Let’s throw a party. Let’s invite the people who were a part of it’s heritage and honor them. People from 1st People from Colonial Hills. Pastors from our past who sacrificed in many ways to keep things moving along. For those pastors who’ve gone home to be with the Lord, what about their wives, their kids who are still alive. We could honor them. Former staff members; deacons; workers; Let’s do this up big. Will you pray about being a part of something like that? We could invite Mrs. Sarah Wall – whose mother joined this church in it’s sixth week. I don’t know if she could make the trip, but we could invite her. Maybe we could track down Mr. Beatty and his family?
  3. Have you considered being a part of this great body? Maybe God’s calling you to join our church and to build upon the work of those who’ve gone before.
  4. If you’ve never asked Christ to forgive you of your sin and commit your life to him, I offer him to you today.

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Filed under 2 Corinthians, Boasting, Church History, Faithfulness, Loyalty

2 Corinthians 11.1-15

Title: Instinctual Leadership

Text: 2 Corinthians 11.1-15

CIT: Paul’s boasting is with good reason. He is led to it by

Introduction: Pastor Joe Wright had been invited to serve as the House’s guest chaplain by Rep. Anthony Powell, a Wichita Republican who was also a member of Wright’s church. Accordingly, Pastor Wright composed a prayer, read it at the opening of the legislature on January 23,and departed, unaware of the ruckus he had created until his church secretary called him on his car phone to ask him what he had done.

Reportedly, one Democrat walked out in protest, three others gave speeches critical of Wright’s prayer, and another blasted Wright’s “message of intolerance.” House Minority Leader Tom Sawyer (also a Democrat) asserted that the prayer “reflects the extreme, radical views that continue to dominate the House Republican agenda since right-wing extremists seized control of the House Republican caucus last year.” Rep. Jim Long, a Democrat from Kansas City, said that Wright “made everyone mad.” But Rep. Powell, who had invited Wright in the first place, claimed that House Democrats were only trying to make political points with their criticism and affirmed that he supported the theme of the prayer. What did he pray that was so bad?

Heavenly Father, we come before You today to ask Your forgiveness and seek Your direction and guidance. Lord, we know Your Word says, “Woe to those who call evil good,” but that’s exactly what we’ve done. We have lost our spiritual equilibrium and inverted our values. 

We confess that we have ridiculed the absolute truth of Your Word and called it moral pluralism. 

We have worshipped other gods and called it multi-culturalism. 

We have endorsed perversion and called it an alternative lifestyle. 

We have exploited the poor and called it the lottery. 

We have neglected the needy and called it self-preservation. 

We have rewarded laziness and called it welfare. 

We have killed our unborn and called it choice. 

We have shot abortionists and called it justifiable. 

We have neglected to discipline our children and called it building esteem. 

We have abused power and called it political savvy. 

We have coveted our neighbors’ possessions and called it ambition. 

We have polluted the air with profanity and pornography and called it freedom of expression. 

We have ridiculed the time-honored values of our fore-fathers and called it enlightenment. 

Search us oh God and know our hearts today; try us and see if there be some wicked way in us; cleanse us from every sin and set us free. 

Guide and bless these men and women who have been sent here by the people of Kansas, and who have been ordained by You, to govern this great state. Grant them Your wisdom to rule and may their decisions direct us to the center of Your will. I ask it in the name of Your Son, the Living Savior, Jesus Christ. 


R Kent Hughes tells a similar story in his commentary on 2 Corinthians. He writes: Many years ago a number of government officials in The Hague, who were more fashionable than religious, invited Van Courtonne, the famous court preacher of Paris who was of Dutch descent, to preach in their State Church chapel. But because Van Courtonne considered their interest more social than spiritual, more a curiosity than a zeal for truth, he declined to come. When the invitation was repeated several times, he agreed to accept—on the condition that all the government officials would be present. They agreed.

The famous Van Courtonne appeared and preached on “The Ethiopian” from Acts 8. His sermon had four points:

1) A government official who read his Bible—something rare.

2) A government official who acknowledged his ignorance—something rarer still.

3) A government official who asked a lesser person for instruction—something extremely rare.

4) A government official who was converted—the rarest thing of all!

Van Courtonne never received a second invitiation.

What is it about the Truth that makes people so mad? … especially those in leadership? Are we really so righteous and holy that we have a right to be angry when confronted with the truth? that is not what ‘above reproach means?” If anyone here thinks that he has obtained perfection, let me say: Get over yourself! Good! Nobody got up and walked out!

Yes, it is true that being confronted with our sin is painful. But as it says in Proverbs 12.15: The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice.

Paul is hoping these Corinthians will listen to him. Look at 2 Corinthians. In chapter 10, He has just explained that boasting has limits – the limits of the work of God through the Apostle. After this passage that we’ll look at today, Paul will begin his boasting in v 22. But, only in his weaknesses! For today, he’ll explain where this boasting is coming from and just why he is driven to boasting. Namely, he describes three instincts:

  1. The Paternal Instinct of an Apostle
  2. The Pastoral Instinct of an Apostle
  3. The Prophetic Instinct of an Apostle

Transition: Let’s begin with the 1st instinct, the paternal instinct…

1.     Paternal Instincts (1-6)

exp.: it is interesting how many times we see the personal pronoun “I”; rd v 1-6 w/ emphasis; Parents don’t usually have to explain ourselves to our children; but, sometimes we do – especially if we think it’s going to help them; if we think it’s for their good; Paul is really hard on himself here;

  • I wish
  • I feel a divine jealousy is zealous;
  • I betrothed
  • I am afraid –
  • Even if I am unskilled: idiot; I told you Paul was being hard on himself! It simply means, Untrained or unskilled – not professional;
  • I am knowledgeable!

Paul’s use of parental terminology and illustrations is rather common; to make his point from time to time in the letters he compares his feelings and emotion to that of a parent;

  • to the Corinthians themselves, in 1 Cor 4.15; 15 For though you have countless guides in Christ, you do not have many fathers. For I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel. 16 I urge you, then, be imitators of me. 17 That is why I sent you Timothy, my beloved and faithful child in the Lord, to remind you of my ways in Christ, as I teach them everywhere in every church
  • Phil 2.22 of his relationship to Timothy again; But you know Timothy’s proven worth, how as a son with a father he has served with me in the gospel.
  • Turn to 1 Thess. 2. He tells them of his parental instincts using both the father and the mother; Turn there:
    • Dare to share (2.1-7) – facing strong opposition
    • Care to share (2.8-9) – being affectionately desirous of you – to share our very selves. Like a mother
    • Go out there to share (2.9-12) – like a father; a hard worker; is not a burden to his children but is holy and righteous before them; exhorting and encouraging and charging his children to live in a manner worthy of the name we bear.

This is what our missionaries are enduring even now in Montenegro. This is what our missionaries will endure when they head out overseas.

  • And likewise, in Philemon 10 of his relationship to Onesimus; I appeal to you for my child, Onesimus, whose father I became in my imprisonment.

ill.: I have two fathers in the ministry; One who was a part of my conversion and growth (And, has kept up with me through the years) and another who invested heavily in my ministry.

  • 3 John 4 – John says: I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth. And often calls those he’s writing to my little children.

ill.: This is something we can relate to, as we consider what Paul is saying. We as fathers wish to present our daughters to their future husbands – pure and prepared. We have a divine jealousy for them. We want to protect them from those who would take advantage of them. I think of some dads who will do this sooner than later. You’re thinking, man I got years before that happens to me! Listen, the years pass so fast! David – to Ellie; Lee to Audry; Bob – to Abbey! And mothers feel no less toward their daughters: Dawn to Kristin; Melissa to Allie, Jennifer and her girls and the list goes on –

app.: you understand what he means – you get this illustration of a parent’s instinctual concern.

t.s.: Paul demonstrates his parental instincts through his concern for this church, his baby, if you will. Next, he shows us his…

2.     Pastoral Instincts (7-11)

exp.: rd v 7; a pastor knows he’s called to preach, at whatever expense he can; for Paul, he didn’t want the Corinthian church to be burdened; rd v 8;

ill.: Teen Mania has been in the news for the last few years because of their financial woes. In an article I read in World magazine, they were spending money in wasteful ways. One such report was that Ron Luce paid TD Jakes $100,000 to speak in New York at their BattleCry event in 2008. Jacob Morales (Luce’s executive assistant) says Teen Mania chartered a $21,000 private jet and spent more than $4,000 on a two-night stay at the Ritz Carlton for Jakes, whom Luce wanted as a Teen Mania partner. Morales says he had discretion over $10,000 in cash to buy imported flowers, chocolates, rare bread, candy, iPods, and other gifts for the Jakes family to find in their hotel suite, green room, and two Cadillac Escalade limousines.

app.: Now, I don’t want to disparage Jakes or Luce. I’m sure there are fans of these ministers here in this room. From what I understand, Jakes didn’t accept Luce’s offer to speak at first – it was only after much prodding and pressure to get him that he gave in to Luce’s advances. My point is that this isn’t anything new: the super apostles were an expense to the Corinthians. My guess is that Jakes had no idea of the financial struggles Teen Mania was experiencing.

What I do see is a man here who loves the people he’s trying to reach so much, that he took a hit financially to bring them the gospel. He even accepted gifts from others who saw his work as missionary and wanted to contribute so that he could forego making tents to spend time in ministry. And, that appears not to be the case with these so-called super-apostles.

exp.: and Paul declares this in the next verse: rd v 9; And the effect has been tremendous, rd v 10; But the Corinthians might not see this…they might see his refusal to accept payment as spite; rd v 11;

app.: a pastor loves his congregation. Just how to describe it? I’m not sure it can be put into words. Maybe love isn’t supposed to be expressed in words; maybe love is simply shown through the sacrifices made and the actions one takes to protect and care for others – like a father or mother, like a pastor and his church.

t.s.: finally, Paul displays his…

3.     Prophetic Instincts (12-15)

exp.: The role of a pastor is to wear many hats; gratefully, I’m blessed with many around me who help keep the ministry going. There is the pastoral role already mentioned, but there is also the prophetic role – the job of declaring thus saith the Lord. It involves the spiritual side of what we do. The prophetic instinct is to smell out unhealthy, unsound doctrine and those who lead the church astray.

rd v 12-15; he calls them false, lit.: pseudo apostles; he says they’re disguising themselves: is the word μετασχηματίζω; So you have this small schematic of a larger one; These false apostles are like the one they imulate, the one who disguises himself as a angel of light. Their end will correspond to their deeds. Like Satan, they’re fooled into thinking they’re something.

The prophet, using the Word of God as his standard, works to see that believers are being transformed into the image of Christ. There is a huge difference between the two. Note: There is a difference between a change that takes place with the believer vs. the non-believer. In Romans 12.2 Paul says: Do not be conformed (schematic) to this world, but be transformed (metamorphosis) by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

app.: Wow! Paul puts it so clearly: these super apostles were simply smaller diagrams, schematics, patterning themselves after the devil – and they probably didn’t even know it! Acting out of pride, selfishness and greed, they acted like the one they were following. That isn’t what we do as believers. It is God who works in us, transforming us, as we work out our salvation – with fear and trembling.

And isn’t that the goal of the parent, the goal of the pastor, the goal of the prophet who speaks the Word of God to you? – that you would be renewed, that you would discern the will of God – what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Conclusion: Paul’s message has been much like Van Courtonne’s and Pastor Joe Wright’s prayer to the Senate. What would have happened if the leadership in Paris or in Kansas would have bowed their heads before God and asked for wisdom to see … what did he pray?… see if there be some wicked way in us; cleanse us from every sin and set us free.


  1. A Heart of Humility: The church and its leadership must humble itself before the Lord. There is no place to stand before the Lord.
  2. A Zeal for Honesty: The church and its leadership must deal honestly with God’s Word. What does God’s word say? What does it mean? And what does it mean for me? What is God calling me to do in light of what I’ve just heard?
  3. A Spirit of Wisdom: The false apostles of today, who proclaim another Jesus and present a different gospel, must be identified. They are slick and smart. This calls for wisdom on the part of the believer.
  4. A Physical Boldness: We must confront false doctrine. We must speak out against the sin that is becoming commonplace in our society and culture. The days of being quiet about sin are behind us.

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Filed under 2 Corinthians, Bible Reading, Discipleship, Humility

2 Corinthians 10.12-18

Title: Boasting: Some Ground Rules

Text: 2 Corinthians 10.12-18

CIT: the super apostles had set themselves up by making comparisons to themselves and to Paul. They were enjoying the fruit of Paul’s labor in Corinth and were leading the Corinthians astray.

CIS: Boasting has ground rules;


Charles Spurgeon, a Baptist pastor in London, England, had a pastor-friend, Dr. Newman Hall, who wrote a book entitled, Come to Jesus. Another preacher, writing an editorial for a local paper, wrote a scathing and lengthy article that ridiculed Hall. Hall bore it patiently at first, but over time the article gained steam and popularity. Hall decided he would sit down and write a letter of protest in his defense. His answer was full of retaliatory rhetoric and inflammable invectives that out did anything the dastardly article had done to him. So, before mailing the letter, he took it to his good friend Spurgeon for his opinion and proofing.

Spurgeon read the letter carefully and handed back to Hall. While the letter was passing back to Hall, Spurgeon asserted that it was indeed a well-written letter. He said it was excellent and the writer of that article deserved everything that letter possessed. “But,” he added, “It just lacks one little thing.” After pausing in thought Spurgeon continued, “Underneath your signature you ought to write the words, ‘Author of Come to Jesus.’”

The two godly men looked at each other for a few moments. Then Hall tore the letter to shreds.

I want to talk to you today about boasting; about pride; about glory; about authenticity. There is a level of authenticity that should bring you pride and even cause you to boast. However, just where does that happen? In the OT, there is a word: Hallal. It can mean to shine, to praise, to boast or to glory. It has other meanings as well. If you think about it for a moment – wouldn’t you say that there isn’t too much difference between these words?

  • Shine
  • Praise
  • Boast
  • Glory

Are there ground rules in the Bible for such behavior? Are there times that is it ok for us to boast? What about boasting in matters that aren’t yours – boasting in other’s accomplishments and authenticity…

In our text 2 Corinthians 10.12-18, Paul outlines this matter of boasting and sets some ground rules – rules that he will follow as he begins boasting in the next chapter. Here is his outline, as I see it:

  1. Boasting within the Limits
  2. Boasting within the Labor
  3. Boasting within the Lord

Transition statement: Let’s look the 1st section here in Setting the Ground Rules for Boasting:

1.     Boasting within the Limits (12-13)

exp.: rd v12a; Paul comes back to this ‘commending’ again, showing us that he is taking about these super apostles. Paul never refers to these super apostles by name. He never addresses them straight on. Instead, it’s as if they’re in the room and Paul knows they’re listening. He address the Corinthians, with the full knowledge that these others are listening in; Let’s look at a few words; you wouldn’t notice it in the English, but there is a play on words in these words we just read; ἐγκρῖναι ἢ συγκρῖναι; Classify or compare; It’s like he’s saying you’re not the standard and someone else is not the standard; You don’t compare within and without;

  1. You’re not supposed to compare yourselves with others
    1. not to their work;
    2. not to their accomplishments;
    3. not to their standards; Rd v 12b; Two more words; Measure – meter; Boasting by way of comparison to others is outside the limits;
  2. You’re not supposed to compare others to yourself; you’re not the standard either! When people do this, Paul says, they are without understanding.

This is our 4th word; συνίημι; Lit.: to set together; The idea is that the puzzel pieces are coming together in your mind piece by piece and wah-lah, you understand; Really to the point of insight; There is intelligence intimated here – that is, the capacity to understand;

ill.: In the 80’s, there was a slogan pushed by Nancy Reagan: Just say no. She was determined to get out the knowledge that drugs are bad for you and that would lead to people no longer using drugs. She felt that knowledge was the key. But we’ve learned that knowledge alone doesn’t stop drug use. There is a 2nd step to knowledge – the application of knowledge. It’s called Wisdom.

Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is knowing not to put it in a fruit salad.

The funny thing about it is that Tomatoes were considered fruit until the Supreme Court ruled in 1893 (Nix vs. Hedden) that tomatoes were vegetables. Scientifically, they were wrong. They did it because the ruling allowed the tomato to be taxed under the Tariff Act of 1883. Since then, many have assumed tomatoes are vegetables. Scientifically though, they have seeds – which make them fruit. But I digress…

app.: the point is that knowledge isn’t anything unless it’s used correctly. Knowledge would be the directions. Wisdom is following those directions. Paul says these guys are without understanding. They may act like they know a whole lot – and they probably do; but, really, they just don’t know how all of the pieces fit together. They’re foolish. Rd v 13;

t.s.: Boasting can be done within the Limits. Well, what are those limits? He actually states it right there in v 13 – that work that has been assigned to us, namely – the labor; And that’s our 2nd point, 2ndly,

2.     Boasting within the Labor (14-16)

exp.: with regard to the area of influence God assigned to us, rd v 14; For we are not overextending ourselves, as though we did not reach you. For we were the first to come all the way to you with the gospel of Christ. This area of influence is the Corinthian church! Paul was commissioned by God to go. Paul states clearly that he and his team of missionaries were the ones to plant their church. I’ve been racking my brain as to who could have been considered the planter of this church before Paul. Think of the division: “I follow Paul,” or “I follow Apollos,” or “I follow Cephas,” or “I follow Christ.”

  • Christ – we’ll yeah, but he wasn’t the missionary – he’s the boss who does the sending.
  • Apollos – No, he doesn’t appear until after Paul establishes the church in Acts 18;
  • Cephas – Maybe… We don’t know when he came through; but maybe the argument from the super-apostles is that they get their ‘commendation’ from Cephas;
  • Paul – seems to me to be the 1st one on the scene.

So here’s what I think: I don’t know this, but this is a theory I have: the super-apostles were disciples at some level with someone like Cephas (Simon Peter) or Apollos. And, they used Cephas or Apollos or some other Apostle or even church to commend themselves to the Corinthians. That’s my guess. Truth is, we just don’t know.

So, to be clear now, Paul clarifies for us in v 15-16 that this boasting can be done within the area of assignment from God; rd v 15-16; this boasting, as it were, was in this foundation that they’ve become a base of operations – not boasting in them, as much as boasting in what will be done through them – taking the Gospel even further from Jerusalem. At one point, Corinth was the boundary of how far the Gospel had been taken. Now, they created a base of operations that enabled Paul to take the Gospel further. Paul didn’t have to boast of what anyone else had done – there was plenty of boasting to do in what God had done in Corinth and what God was doing through them to take the Gospel further. And, just as Paul didn’t need to boast of anyone else’s work – so they shouldn’t be boasting in the work that he had done. That’s just wrong – that’s outside the limits.

ill.: It’s like if you take your compass and pencil and draw a circle from Jerusalem, the outside line of how far the Gospel had gone would go through Corinth.

app.: Paul has bragging rights, as it were, because this labor, established by God was his. No one else could possibly say what he could say. And, Paul says: so that we may preach the gospel in lands beyond you, without boasting of work already done in another’s area of influence. He won’t take credit for someone else’s work. That would just be wrong – out of limits, so to speak.

This is precisely what he tells the Christians in Rome when he writes to them and says in 15.17:

17 In Christ Jesus, then, I have reason to be proud of my work for God. 18 For I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me to bring the Gentiles to obedience—by word and deed, 19 by the power of signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God—so that from Jerusalem and all the way around to Illyricum I have fulfilled the ministry of the gospel of Christ; 20 and thus I make it my ambition to preach the gospel, not where Christ has already been named, lest I build on someone else’s foundation, 21 but as it is written, “Those who have never been told of him will see, and those who have never heard will understand.” 22 This is the reason why I have so often been hindered from coming to you. 23 But now, since I no longer have any room for work in these regions, and since I have longed for many years to come to you, 24 I hope to see you in passing as I go to Spain, and to be helped on my journey there by you, once I have enjoyed your company for a while.

t.s.: So, boasting within the limits, within the labor and finally,

3.     Boasting within the Lord (17-18)

exp.: rd v 17; his reference here is from Jeremiah 9.23-24; 23 Thus says the Lord: “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, 24 but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the Lord.”

If you’ve missed it to this point, he makes the context of this boasting so clear:

  1. It is limited:
    1. Do not boast in your wisdom. Stop there. Wisdom is a good thing. But, to boast in YOUR wisdom isn’t.
    2. Do not boast in YOUR
    3. Do not boast in YOUR Rd v 18;
  2. It is in the labor of the gospel
    1. Boast in that he understands me.
    2. Boast in that he knows me.
  3. It is only in the Lord
    1. Who is perfect in all he does (He practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness)

Conclusion: the following comes from the Preacher’s Commentary, 2 Corinthians, written by Kenneth Chaffin

Cliff Barrows is one of the best-known musicians in the Christian world, having led great crusade choirs all over the world for more than a third of a century. I have come to know him very well through the years and am constantly amazed at both his ability and his spirit. Through his many years of close association with Dr. Billy Graham in the work of evangelism, in addition to directing the music for the crusades he has produced both the radio and television programs and has carried countless other leadership roles within the team and the association.

Cliff is an excellent speaker, and when I was leading the schools of evangelism for Dr. Graham, I made every effort to get him to speak at each of them. The first time he spoke I discovered by his reaction to my introduction a very interesting thing about how he viewed his work. My usual routine was to tell something about what each speaker had done that would be interesting to the audience. Since most of them knew Cliff only as a Music Director, I took a moment to tell of his other activities and to comment on his great value to the team and its ministry. My introduction so embarrassed him that he had a hard time getting started with his talk. Afterwards I apologized and asked what I had done wrong. He said, “Kenneth, I appreciate your inviting me to speak and I know that you were sincere in your remarks, but it just makes me uncomfortable when someone tries to give me credit for things that God has done.” That is boasting in the Lord.

Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord! Let him sing:

Revive Us Again

Chorus: Hallelujah Thine the glory, Hallelujah amen! Hallelujah Thine the glory, Revive us again!

Verse 1: We praise Thee O God For the Son of Thy love; For Jesus who died and is now gone above.

Verse 2: We praise Thee O God For Thy Spirit of light who has shown us our Savior and scattered our night.

Verse 3: All glory and praise to the Lamb that was slain, who has borne all our sins and has cleansed every stain.

Verse 4: Revive us again. Fill each heart with Thy love. May each soul be rekindled with fire from above.

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Filed under 2 Corinthians, Boasting, Scripture, Sermon

2 Corinthians 10.1-11

Title: A Random Check: Scan your files!

Text: 2 Corinthians 10.1-11

CIT: Paul is giving them ample warning: He is coming so they need to deal with these problems.

CIS: Church discipline is a necessary tool to keep the church pure in it’s doctrine.

Introduction: We’re in 2 Corinthians 10.1-11

John Huffman, Jr. tells the following story: Over lunch, several friends were discussing a church that had been so decimated by internal strife that it had become common knowledge in that community. Some members had no stomach for the fight and were drifting into neighboring churches. Those who remained were being pushed by the opposing groups to take sides. The whole affair was becoming very unpleasant.

What was the issue that had precipitated such a furor? Believe it or not, the whole upheaval was over the changing of the job description of the organist. She had been there for years and had built a small empire in her area. She had developed great skill in using a loyal following as a power base for budget, program and calendar advantages. So when a special Lay committee brought a report to the congregation suggesting a slight change in her duties, she took it as a personal rebuke and declared war.

None of the friends who were discussing this at lunch were members of that church. Therefore, they didn’t have to deal with the situation. They quickly agreed with one who said, “That doesn’t sound like a big enough problem over which to split a church!” Then one of the group reminded the others of a truth that is too easily forgotten, “Any problem that has to be dealt with by people who are spiritually immature can divide a church, no matter how small a matter it may appear to be.”

Think back to the issues you have experienced that have torn apart brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ. It’s often the little matters that divide-issues over the color of the walls or the carpet in the sanctuary. I knew a church that split over the size of a door being put into the fellowship hall. The lady leading the fight won and got her 4-foot door. Her reason was so that her daughter, who was getting married soon after the fellowship hall was finished, would be able to wear her wedding dress out of the door when she and her new husband left. What’s more is that when the day of her reception came, the young bride chose to use a different exit! Added to this, the mother quit coming to church after her daughter’s wedding.

So, what actually divides churches? I think the lady in the conversation mentioned above got it right: Spiritual immaturity divides churches.

In Corinth, we find a church that is divided: 12 What I mean is that each one of you says, “I follow Paul,” or “I follow Apollos,” or “I follow Cephas,” or “I follow Christ.” That’s a bad split. Now, it appears, as we get to our text today (2 Cor 10.1), that Paul is still dealing with the issues of Corinth that divide them.

So, Paul issues a warning to them: our text illustrates this with bookends. Rd v 2; I beg of you that when I am present I may not have to show boldness with such confidence as I count on showing against some who suspect us of walking according to the flesh. And again at the end; read v 11; Let such a person understand that what we say by letter when absent, we do when present.

There are two words that appear in both v 2 and in v 11; the 1st is translated count on and understand; the 2nd word is translated when I am present and again, when present. So, the emphasis here being made by Paul is: count on my action when I am present.

In the rest of the text, Paul will make this plea while explaining the reality of the situation to the Corinthians and issuing them a stern warning.

  1. The Plea
  2. The Reality
  3. The Warning

1.     The Plea: Deal with this matter before I come. (1)

exp.: rd v 1-2a; I, Paul, myself entreat you, by the meekness and gentleness of Christ—I who am humble when face to face with you, but bold toward you when I am away!— and again in v 2 – I beg of you;

  • His Authority: 4x’s when you consider the vb, too. I, Paul, myself I encourage;
  • His Humility: His power is presented in meekness and gentleness; his speech isn’t harsh and the volume of his voice isn’t loud. The tone is even: the meekness and gentleness of Christ.

Q.: Why? Why is Paul using his Apostolic Authority to warn the Corinthians? Because their regard for Paul had been undermined by those who twisted his words and made wrongful comparisons of Paul to themselves. They need to take care of their church body. They need to protect the body from those who would lead them astray.

app.: It’s called Church Discipline; Really, for us – you trust the elders to take care of you in spiritual matters. To ensure that false doctrine isn’t being spread; that people aren’t trying to worm their way into positions of power or prestige. And we take that calling serious.

t.s.: So, just how is that done;

2.     The Reality: We walk in the flesh, but we wage a spiritual war. (2-6)

exp.: Paul is distressed at their disregard of the Truth. They’ve cast it aside to follow these ‘super-apostles’ who have wowed them with clever and articulate speech. They appear so strong:

  • Handsome
  • Intelligent
  • Clever
  • Witty
  • Their sermons entertain
  • The numbers are there to support their success.

ill.: While on the other hand, Paul isn’t much to look at and not very articulate like some other polished orators. He’s already said as much in his letters to them: And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God. As for his appearance…

I’m not sure how accurate it is, nor the extent to which the NT played in the following writing; but, there is a 2nd Century apocryphal text entitled: The Acts of Paul and Thecla. 1:4 And a certain man named Onesiphorus, hearing that Paul was come to Iconium, went out speedily to meet him, together with his wife Lectra, and his sons Simmia and Xeno, to invite him to their house. 1:5 For Titus had given them a description of Paul’s personage, they as yet not knowing him in person, but only being acquainted with his character. 1:6 They went in the king’s highway to Lystra, and stood there waiting for him, comparing all who passed by, with that description which Titus had given them. 1:7 At length they saw a man coming (namely Paul), of a low stature, bald on the head, crooked thighs, handsome legs, hollow-eyed; had a crooked nose; full of grace; for sometimes he appeared as a man, sometimes he had the countenance of an angel. And Paul saw Onesiphorus, and was glad. I think a more modern translation might read: He was short, bald, bow-legged, hollowed eyes and a crooked nose. I get the idea he wasn’t much to look at!

app.: but Paul’s argument is quite simply that these folks are not seeing reality. For, the reality of the situation is that, as preachers, we don’t do what we do in the flesh. Oh, sure (rd v 3); though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. rd v 4 – For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power… It’s a spiritual battle. Look at his remarks in v 4ff: For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power

  1. to destroy strongholds – Now, this word only appears here in the NT; however, appears 69x’s in the OT! A stronghold is:

1: a fortified place

2a: a place of security or survival

2b: a place dominated by a particular group or marked by a particular characteristic; I think this is the closest definition to the context of v4;

  1. 5to destroy arguments – the word used here means reasoning powers – that is what people are thinking. Which, then, matches this next phrase…
  2. every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God – This deals with reasoning thoughts; All of these working and running together, look at the rest of v 5;
  3. take every thought captive to obey Christ, look at v 6;
  4. being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete.

exp.: many think that Paul is going to go off on these people – Like Nehemiah who in chapter 13 goes all Chuck Norris on the people – 25 And I confronted them and cursed them and beat some of them and pulled out their hair. And I made them take an oath in the name of God, saying, “You shall not give your daughters to their sons, or take their daughters for your sons or for yourselves.

app.: But I don’t think Paul is threatening like that. No, the texts makes it clear that it has to do with thoughts and reasoning.

t.s.: it really becomes clearer as he continues in his warning…

3.     The Warning: Take care of this now, or I’ll deal with it when I come. (7-11)

exp.: rd v 7a; I love the Gk; it’s more descriptive, like: Watch out for what’s in your face. Rd 7; And then, Paul identifies for us just what’s at stake: rd v 8; Barrett, in his commentary on 2 Corinthians writes: It is the nature of the apostolic Gospel, and the apostolic authority behind it, that are at stake. Paul can’t let this slide, and he must confront the church on this issue. I think he’s meek and gentle still as we read v 9-10;

app.: who can understand the passion a pastor has for his congregation? How can anyone other than a pastor comprehend this great calling and the earnest desire to keep the church he’s planted remain pure and unmolested? He let’s them know in v 11 11 Let such a person understand that what we say by letter when absent, we do when present.

Conclusion: Now you might be wondering to yourself if there is trouble at Calvary. Not that I know of! I’ve just been making my way through 2 Corinthians and have come to this passage. What a great reminder for us to visit this practice of church discipline. We must be diligent to keep the doctrines of the church strong and healthy.

So, how does this apply to us? Application:

  1. If someone has hurt you – go talk to that person.
  • Most grievances are unintended. That’s what is so beautiful about the model in Matthew 18. So many misunderstandings have gone unchecked and people get hurt. Most of the time that’s all it is: a misunderstanding. Most brothers and sisters just want to serve – they’re not out to hurt anyone. If they knew they had hurt you, they would do anything they could to fix it. That wasn’t their intent.
  • One on one protects the person from embarrassment. When we’re caught in our sin, we’re embarrassed! To save face, we get defensive; we try getting the attention off of us and on to someone else. The fight or flight instinct kicks in and neither one are beneficial for the church.
  • Some grievances are intentional. When a person has been hurt they will begin to find validation for their hurt. Hurt comes in so many ways. The best way to fix this is to go talk with the person who has hurt you. Someone can’t fix what they don’t know is wrong.
  • Trust – Trust is foundational to the church. It’s how we become believers. It’s how we work and do ministry. Some people feel like you don’t trust them or maybe they don’t trust you. No ministry can flourish without trust.

Think about the implications here. A church is only as strong as it’s weakest link. We could have dozens of trusted ministries; however, if we are found negligible in one area, we lose trust. And, the whole body suffers.

If trust is lost between members of a team, a breakdown will occur – that ministry within the church suffers. Let me just say we’ve got to build trust between members and teams. Anyone who refuses to confront this hurts the whole body. We could stay here, but let’s move on.

  1. Often times, the reason people are fighting isn’t the real reason. There’s an issue deeper down that isn’t being discussed.
  2. If you see a brother or sister in sin – confront them. The road that leads to destruction is smooth, paved and downhill. Sinking deep into sin is a quick, easy process. The sooner you deal with sin, the quicker a person can be restored. Again – ALONE!
    1. Don’t go to the pastor – go to that person!
    2. Don’t go to the elders – go to that person!
    3. Don’t go seek counsel from a friend – go to that person!

Why can’t we learn this one? Do you not comprehend that he who brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.

  1. Let’s take a personal inventory. Pretty much across the board, most of us feel we’re in the right and others are in the wrong. But that isn’t always the case. Is the ministry you’re involved in becoming too much of you? Is it your puppy, your pet? Do you have too much responsibility for money and budget and people? Would you pray about giving that ministry to someone else? Would you step down and let someone else do that ministry or lead that ministry. If the answer is, “no,” then you need to do a personal inventory.

I wonder what would have happened to that church I was talking about in the beginning – the story from that pastor – I wonder what would have happened if those folks would have practiced some of these principles. What could have saved that church? Maybe someone should have approached that organist a long time ago? It sounds like she was in sin. Maybe, not. Why didn’t one of her friends talk to her in private as she began to wage this war on those who sought to get the ministry under control.

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Filed under 2 Corinthians, Church Discipline, Sermons

2 Corinthians 9.6-15

Title: Divine Principles of Generous Giving

Text: 2 Corinthians 9.6-15

CIT: And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.

CIS: The goal of this message is to challenge the congregation to give above and beyond their normal tithes to give sacrificially toward the Mission we’ve accepted to our UUPG.

Caveat: Because of the nature of this message, I’m going to ask you to record; however, toward the end, I’m going to ask you to stop the recording so that I can speak freely. Ok?


We concluded last week with a challenge to give sacrificially to our UUPG. Some of you may be caught off guard this morning. Maybe you didn’t make it last week and aren’t sure even of what I’m talking about. Let me catch you up.

I’m in the midst of a sermon series on giving. Don’t panic, this isn’t about tithing. Indeed, this passage is all about giving above and beyond the normal tithe. From what Robyn tells me, our church is a giving church. The only way we can really improve our giving – that is through the normal tithe – is to grow as a body. Few members of Calvary don’t give. So, if you’re sitting here today and know that you don’t tithe, you’re in the minority.

Now as a practice I have no idea who gives and who doesn’t. I’ve instructed Robyn and the girls in the office that I don’t want to know. It’s just easier that way. I’m not fond of certain people because they give a lot and I don’t hold grudges against those who don’t give. And that’s because I’m ignorant of both. Intentionally!

But again, that’s not what this message is about. The context in 2 Corinthians concerns the offering Paul had challenged the Corinthians to give toward in relief of the poor believers in Jerusalem. In our opening sermon to this series, I gave a detailed outline of Paul’s passion to bring relief to the poor. It was something that was always on his mind and always in his heart. The Corinthians had committed to this special offering; however, their passion had subsided over time. That’s the context.

Now Paul moves to a positive stance in encouraging the Corinthians to finish what they’ve started – to fulfill their commitment. He does this by telling them 4 principles to generous giving. And, not only does he give us 4 principles for Generous Giving, but he also gives us 6 benefits for generous giving. That’s 10 points! Let me tell you how I’ll present this, so you don’t get lost.

1st, I’ll go verse by verse. I won’t skip and I won’t go backward. That should help. I’ll start in 9.6;

2nd, I’ll present three of the four principles.

3rd, then, I’ll present all 6 benefits.

4th, Finally I’ll present the 4th and final principle. Ok? So, let’s get started. These principles are already written out in your text. Let me quote them:

1.     Principles for becoming a generous giver:

  1. Principle # 1: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. (6)

exp.: According to Paul, that’s the point – he wants to clarify what he’s getting at. So, Paul uses A Farming Analogy; But what exactly does he mean? It sounds like – you reap what you sow: a little seed, a little harvest; A lot of seed, a bigger harvest. I think he’s saying that no farmer worries about putting out too much seed when he’s sowing. He doesn’t hold back because he’s wants to make sure that he has seed left in his barns. The seed is a necessity to his crop. He wants an abundant harvest, not a bunch of seeds. No farmer considers sowing a loss of seeds.

ill.: Paul is only teaching what was common to Jewish thought; Prov 11.24f: 24One gives freely, yet grows all the richer; another withholds what he should give, and only suffers want. 25Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered. And most of you are aware of Malachi 3.10: 10 Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need.

app.: The farmer willing sows every seed he can with what land he has available with the faith that God will bless and grant an abundant harvest. What sane farmer will hold back seed to cheat himself? An abundant harvest will result in more seed next year.

t.s.: Principle #1: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.

  1. Principle # 2: God loves a cheerful giver. (7)

exp.: rd v 7; I don’t think Paul is being negative here by trying to make them feel guilty and spurred into giving for all the wrong reasons. Philip Hughes (NICNT): the true measure of the gift isn’t its external weight but the internal state of the giver’s heart. Which matches Jewish thought and teaching; Deu. 15.10: 10 You shall give to him freely, and your heart shall not be grudging when you give to him, because for this the Lord your God will bless you in all your work and in all that you undertake.

ill.: The Gk word here is: ἱλαρός; Do you remember Zacchaeus? A wee-little man; he was a changed man; he said in Lk 19.8: Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold. I picture this happening at Zach’s house, actually giving away as he’s talking. It must have been authentic as Jesus said: Today salvation has come to this house.

app.: Listen to Philip Hughes again: Genuine, free, unremorseful giving is, however, as Paul reminds his readers here, distinguished by the mark of cheerfulness.

t.s.: Principle #3…

  1. Principle #3: God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work. (8)

exp.: David Garland, from the NAC says: Paul refers to God’s readiness to provide all that is necessary for generosity. Here’s his point: God is ready, willing and able, which is what he’s called them to be. And, added to this is granted all access to his power. That’s the way grace works! God is lavishly generous and abundantly supplies us with everything necessary to have enough for our needs and to be generous with others. V 9 clarifies for us that He freely distributes to us in order that we might have an abundance to distribute to others in need.

app.: So in review, here are our three principles:

  • Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.
  • God loves a cheerful giver.
  • God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.

t.s.: There is a 4th principle, but I’d like to wait until we get there in Scripture to share it you. Let’s look now at the benefits a generous giver experiences, as Paul outlines them in the text.

2.     Benefits of Being Generous Giver:

  1. Benefit #1: It will cause you to abound in what others need for the purpose of supplying their need. (9-10)


exp.: Paul first quotes Scripture in v 9; and then clarifies in v 10; look at v 9; As it is written, “He has distributed freely, he has given to the poor; his righteousness endures forever.” He’s quoting from ps 112; Rd Psalm 112 – this is the habit, practice of the righteous and in so doing, God will cause you to abound, so that you can bless those in need. If you are blessed with financial blessing, it just might be so that you’ll be a blessing to others.

  1. Benefit #2: It will make you spiritually rich (11)

exp.: Don’t gloss by this like you’ve heard it before. Is that important to you? Really? Would you trade the riches of this world for spiritual riches? Do just glibly say yes. Think about this for a moment. Would you trade all of your earthly, material riches for the riches of God?

ill.: Balaam and Balak; Numbers 22.31f: 31 Then the Lord opened the eyes of Balaam, and he saw the angel of the Lord standing in the way, with his drawn sword in his hand. And he bowed down and fell on his face. 32 And the angel of the Lord said to him, “Why have you struck your donkey these three times? Behold, I have come out to oppose you because your way is perverse before me.

app.: You and I can stand here today and claim that we want and act like we want, but our hearts are known to the Lord. Picture this, you standing now to declare you desire – and an Angel of the Lord is standing before you with a sword in his hand to strike you down if you heart doesn’t match your words. Would you still stand?

t.s.: I know, I’m so dramatic! However, it causes you to do an internal search, doesn’t it? #3

  1. Benefit #3: It will result in an outpouring of Thanksgiving to God (rd 11b-12)

exp.: which is the goal, isn’t it? We’re grateful for your gifts; however, we understand we’re dependent on God and he’s the one who is ultimately supplying our need. I think of this often times from a recipient’s point of view. After all, I’m called of God and depend on his grace for my supplies. So, I can and do identify with the missionaries. But, let me change this for a moment, because my wife and I are considering committing to this. We have already, actually. So, and I say this now, not for your benefit, not so that you’ll be impressed with me, but rather to identify with you. I don’t want your thanks. It’s nice, but ultimately, my hearts desire is to bow with you and pour out my gratitude to God – as we pour into a bank account the amount needed to send these missionaries.

  1. Benefit #4: It will bring glory to God (rd v 13a)

Exp.: that’s really the ultimate goal here anyway, right? – to glorify God and enjoy him forever?


  1. Benefit #5: It will increase your witness to the World. (13b)

exp.: Your contributing to a missionary – above and beyond your tithe – is a witness to those who will be receiving our missionaries.

ill.: Our missionaries will be somewhere with someone or a group of someones represented by our UUPG. A question will be asked: How are you guys able to do this? You name will not be mentioned, but your witness will be. Your submission (here today – that) comes from your confession of the gospel of Christ (that’s the witness), and the generosity of your contribution for them (our missionaries) and for all others (in our UUPG) that’s a witness to them.


  1. Benefit #6: The recipients will respond with prayers for you (14); God’s surpassing Grace upon you. That’s why you’ve been blessed. That’s why that Grace abounds to you.

3 Principles and 6 Benefits; however, v 15 offers us one last Principle – Principle #4

3.     One Last Principle for becoming a generous giver:

  1. Principle # 4: God has given us an example to follow. (15)

exp.: rd v 15; God isn’t asking us to do something unlike him. As I was preparing for this message, I thought about how God has set this example. We’re like our Father when we give sacrificially. Just recording this thought made me think I’ve heard this before. Sure enough, John MacArthur said: We are never more like God then when we forgive; A little different but really, very much the same. God’s indescribable gift has brought us forgiveness.

  • For God so loved the world, that he gave his one and only son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have everlasting life.
  • In Galatians Paul says of Jesus: 4who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father…
  • And, later in that same letter: 20 I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
  • And to the Ephesians he said: Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
  • To the Thessalonians he said: 16 Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, 17 comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word. That applies to us here!
  • To Timothy he said: For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time.
  • And to Titus he said: 11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, 12 training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, 13 waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.

app.: We are called to be like God – to be holy as he is holy – to give sacrificially, as he gave. For when we, for the Gospel’s sake, give – we are like our Father in heaven.


Challenge for Giving to Missions


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Filed under 2 Corinthians, Scripture, Sermons

2 Corinthians 8.15-9.5

Title: A Letter of Commendation: The Three Apostles

Text: 2 Corinthians 8.16-24

Introduction: Perhaps you’ve heard about the old miser who called his doctor, lawyer, and pastor to his deathbed. “They say that you can’t take it with you,” said the dying man, “but I will – I have a plan. I have three envelopes with $100,000 in cash in each one. I want each of you to take an envelope, and just before they close the casket, I want each of you to slip your envelope into my casket.” They all promised to do so. And at the end of the funeral they did it! On the way home, the conscience-stricken doctor confided in his friends, “I’m building a clinic, so I took $50,000 and put the rest in the coffin.” Then the lawyer fessed up, too, “I kept $75,000 for a legal defense fund and put $25,000 in.” At this, the preacher said, “Gentlemen, I’m ashamed of you. I’ll have you know I put in a check for the full amount!”

I guess it’s ok if I poke fun at ministers – I just happen to be one. And, I’m guessing you’ve heard your fair share of stories of pastors who have robbed the church. Even missionaries.

This is no joke:

Ex-IMB missionary sentenced to two years for stealing IMB missions Funds; AP January 26, 2015

Today’s passage is about the three men who were charged with the responsibility of collecting gifts from churches, specifically, the church in Corinth.

  • Three Apostles
  • Their Accountability
  • Paul’s Continued Appeal for the Collection

1.     Three Apostles: Three Brothers sent for the Collection (16-19a; 22)

exp.: Rd v 16-17; just as the Corinthians had accepted the challenge to give to the needy in Jerusalem, Titus had accepting the challenge to go and collect it, carry it to Jerusalem and see that it was deposited there to meet needs.

  1. Titus – he volunteered, because of his close affiliation to the Corinthians; rd v 18;
  2. The Evangelist – εὐαγγέλιον; it seems that most early Acts 20.4 –
    1. (1)Sopater the Berean, son of Pyrrhus, accompanied him; and of the Thessalonians,
    2. (2)Aristarchus and
    3. (3) Secundus; and
    4. (4)Gaius of Derbe, Derbe in Pamphilia? No. Acts 19.29 So the city was filled with the confusion, and they rushed together into the theater, dragging with them Gaius and Aristarchus, Macedonians who were Paul’s companions in travel. Plus, the Western text has commentary notes that inform the read that Gaius was from the town of Doberus. I suppose a variant or some form of Derbe. Another location with the same town name. Example Antioch.
    5. (5)Timothy; and But Paul probably would have mentioned him by name.
    6. the Asians, (6)Tychicus and
    7. (7)Trophimus. These went on ahead and were waiting for
    8. (8)*us (Luke) at Troas;
    9. (9)Sosthenes; Acts 18.17: Riot at Corinth; also writer of 1 Corinthians – so these guys know him! But again, he’s a Macedonian.

So, who was it? Dunno! What we do know: 9.4 – They were not Macedonians. If any were to accompany Paul and these guys, then there is a possibility that they might be embarrassed at the poor showing. So, if you list all of these men and do away with the Macedonians you’re left with:

  • Tychicus, Trophimus and Luke. The interesting part of this is that the early church fathers said this was Luke. There are some great “proofs” presented by them. He wrote the 3rd Gospel – something he could be recognized for in v. 18; rd v 18; lit.: famous in the Gospel. So, answer we don’t know. Barnabas? Apollos; there is a 3rd person appointed to this task. I call him…
  1. Earnest – rd v 22;

app.: So we have three men – apostles, their called in v. 23 (messengers in the ESV)

t.s.: these three men are the ones who carry this letter to the Corinthians; Now let’s look at their task.

2.     Their Accountability: the three brothers accept responsibility for the collection (19b-22)

exp.: rd v 19a;

  1. Their Appointment by the Churches (19a)
  2. Their Administration as the Collectors (19b-20); ministered, same word as deacon; our deacons, whom you select and we, elders appoint to the task of counting the offering; rd v 21
  3. Their Aim in Finishing the Task (21) has two aspects to it:
    1. Their Honor before God and Man;
    2. God’s glory (v19b) for the glory of the Lord himself and to show our good will.

There is a 4th part to this accountability: they were appointed to it, their responsibility to administer it, and their honor before God and man – 4thly, their proven record has given the churches confidence to give them this great responsibility; rd v 22;

  1. Their Proven Record: They’ve been Tried, Tested and found True (22); rd v 23;

app.: So, there you have it: 3 Apostles, commissioned with this great responsibility – appointed to administer this gift, this offering, with the Aim of Honor before God and men. They have proven themselves worthy of finishing this task.

t.s.: So, Paul gives another appeal to the Corinthians;

3.     Paul’s Continued Appeal for the Collection (24-9.5)

exp.: rd v 24; prove your love with action! It seems the Corinthians talked a good game in the beginning, but somehow, over the course of time, they had taken their eyes off of the goal. Things had changed. They got lazy and stopped working on this. Other tasks entered into the picture. Maybe funds were needed elsewhere.

t.s.: You might be asking: This is all fine and good, Bro. Fred, but how does this affect us? That was good for them – and Paul needed to get on to them. How does this apply to me personally and to Calvary in general?

Application: I’m so glad you asked:

In August of 2011 – I heard about a challenge being issued by our State Convention’s president to embrace a UUPG – an Unreached, Unengaged people group. In September, I believe it was, Jason Moore and I went to an Embrace conference. Later in the Fall, I believe at the Convention, based on the reception I’d received from you guys, I signed a commitment card to lead my church to embrace a UUPG. We started praying – specifically for three different areas. Within 3 months, we felt a release to drop one. Then we prayed for two areas. It took a lot longer, but we eventually dropped one and began to focus on one area alone.

A little research revealed 3 UUPG’s in our area of focus. We researched and prayed about these three groups and pretty much unanimously felt God’s leading to one specific group. This group had been rejected. Former slaves, they were now the lowest people on the rung of the ladder of life. I can only remember only one person recommending another people group other than the one we chose. And that wasn’t even a recommendation, just a passing: did you consider these people?

On July 20th, 2013, almost two years after the journey began, I wrote the following letter to our president:
Dr. Richards, It has been nearly 2 years ago that I saw your picture in an article and the story related to that photo. You committed 1,000 SBTC churches to embrace a UUPG. I picked up the phone and called your office to ask about it. I spoke to a lady whose name I don’t remember, but she told me the jest of what that meant and that I’d be learning more and more about it in the months to come. Well, I visited with my leaders and challenged my church to become one of the 1st churches to embrace a UUPG. It scared them, but accepted the challenge. It was a few months later that I filled out a card and made that commitment public at a SBTC event. I wanted you to know that we’ve prayed long and hard about our UUPG. Through a long process, God narrowed our search down to a specific group. We purchased our tickets to go on our vision trip this past week. In October, we’ll journey to this place to walk amidst the people we’ve been praying for. I’m so excited and thrilled as a pastor to be leading our people to do this. Instead of sending my folks each year to different places, we’ll now be focused upon one people. It’s been a long two years, but a wonderful journey that is just beginning. Thank you for your leadership and for what you do to lead us on to God’s agenda. We’ve been blessed by your faithfulness.

Fred Smith, Calvary, Tyler

It’s been 16 months since we’ve gone on that vision trip. We came back and challenged the church with the following Recommendations:

  1. Return to our UUPG with Smaller groups… 3 x 3 or 2 x 3 – 6 people was too much. (we’ve not done that.)
  2. Return in March 1-18, 2014 during their festival time. There will be some indigenous peoples there who can be our translators. (We didn’t do that)
  3. Put Boots on the Ground. We need a couple or a family on the ground coordinating efforts for us. An FOB – Forward Operating Base, Base Camp if you will. These people can do reconnaissance missions and enhance the effort for us. (we haven’t done this)
  4. Form a CBC Mission Team to specifically focus on this mission. (we kind of did this, we formed a team to do this and focus on missions, ministry and evangelism here) We only have so many workers in our small church.
  5. Begin Praying about filling a need – a reason to be there. 4 aspects of this need
    1. Simple: When traveling so far and costing so much, we need the task to be simplified
    2. Sustainable: by the boots on the ground and through short term trips
    3. Low Tech: These people live at 11,000 feet. We have to carry everything up single file trails to get to their villages. Whatever we do must be low tech. In other words, you’re not getting the Carter Blood Mobile up there!
    4. Inexpensive to implement/maintain: with costs already extreme, we must choose something that is low cost and easy to implement and maintain. Like, it must be able to be hiked in. If we ask Dr. Latta to go and do dentistry work, we’re not going to have electricity or dental chairs. And we’re sure not hiking them in!

Review each one: We’ve really not been able to accomplish these. We’ve missed some opportunities and have just had difficulty in others.

Well, Calvary, It’s time! The Mission Team has given a set of recommendations to the elders. The elder’s have made some small adjustments and are just about ready to present it all to you. Are you ready? ?

I feel a bit like Paul. I’m concerned. I wonder if your heart isn’t fully engaged in this. I have this picture on my computer to remind me of a particular moment on our trip. Show pic. This woman, we didn’t even get to meet her. She stayed away from us until we had gone by. Look at that smile.

Without Christ this young lady and her family are doomed to a life of ancestor worship, idol worship. Buddhism, Hinduism and the like. She faces a Christless life and to die a Christless death. No hope.

Now that we’ve finally arrived at this place to give and go, I wonder if you’ve become like the Corinthians. A lot of time has passed. Have you forgotten?

Here is what I need from you:

  1. More intentional focused prayer. Committing daily to pray for this effort. Some have. I have, but I wonder about us all. We all need to be praying. Satan wants to stop us – to make us fail. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man is powerful in it’s working. Pray.
  2. Set money aside.
    1. For our missionaries. We will present someone to you soon. It will take $30,000-$40,000 more dollars. Instead of a one year trip, we’d like to make it a two year commitment. Will you sacrifice to make this happen?
      1. Cancel Cable for a year? Dish? Lower your subscription.
      2. Tell your parents to cancel you cell phone, your internet?
    2. Not eat out after church on Sunday? Or at all?
    3. Instead of that ski trip or Disney trip, or hunting trip – do something closer to home? Instead of flying, take a bus? Or drive? Instead of a hotel, camp out.
    4. Maybe someone is feeling a call to sell something personal – a toy, a plaything and donate that money. I don’t know – you follow God on that.
    5. Will you sacrifice to make this happen?
  3. To go.
    1. Seriously pray about going. There are so many ways to encourage our missionaries, to see the work 1st hand. I’m telling you, it will change your perspective on missions.
    2. It’ll cost you money, time, energy, you’ll have to get into shape, lose a few pounds. Learn some of the basic words of their language.
    3. If you go, you won’t be able to engage these people for three days, because that’s how long it’ll take you to get there. You might get sick, diarrhea, sleepless nights, fire crackers going off in the night, you could be arrested and spend some time in jail before being deported. Will you consider going?
    4. If you go, remember these people are unreached and unengaged for a reason? The government doesn’t want you there. The trip to get there is three days. I’ve thought through this and don’t see how you can start ministry before the 3rd day. Even if you went straight there, you’ll have to get some sleep.
  4. Make a Public Commitment

I think some folks have decided in their hearts that this is just too hard. Let’s look for mission trips closer, let’s look for mission trips that are cheaper. You have some decisions to make.

  • Annie Armstrong
  • Lottie Moon
  • Faith comes by Hearing
  • The Cook’s are going to Montenegro
  • There will be Youth Missions; Family Missions; Pleas to purchase Bibles, etc.

With all of these missions to emphasize, which will you choose? Your resources are limited. And if you divide your recourses amongst them all, which ones will suffer and get less? It’s tough. What will you do? Here’s my fear: rd 9.1-5; I bragged about your readiness, I’ve told the state leadership about your readiness. We’ve been written up in magazine articles, we’ve been focused on at conventions and conferences, The state has asked to have next years mission Conference at Calvary because you have displayed your great passion for Mission and Ministry. And now, I do have complete confidence you, but I have a little fear. I, what did he say, Otherwise, if some Baptists come with me and find that you are not ready… we would be humiliated—to say nothing of you—for being so confident.

You have accepted the challenge; the time is upon us.

I need you to sit down with your family and your finances and make a decision about how to support the missionaries we’re going to send. We’ll need a monthly commitment, above and beyond the tithe. Next week, you will be given a challenge and I want you to be ready. I’m going to ask you to make a public commitment.

KR grew up in a pastor’s home. She said that they didn’t really have a lot of money. It came time to give an offering – above and beyond the tithe – for missions. The kids voted to give up Ketchup. For an entire year. Every time they ate and Ketchup was usually used – they didn’t have any. They remembered to pray for their missionaries. Ketchup for a poor family. What would that equal today – for a little kid? What would the equivalent be for you?

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