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2 Corinthians 12-13 - Part A

Connect with Skip Heitzig / Skip Heitzig
The Truth Network Radio
May 14, 2024 6:00 am

2 Corinthians 12-13 - Part A

Connect with Skip Heitzig / Skip Heitzig

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May 14, 2024 6:00 am

Pastor Skip shares a message about an astonishing vision the apostle Paul had of heaven.


Wait, wait a minute. You're saying that you saw heaven? You heard things in heaven? You got a vision of heaven? Tell me more. And all Paul can say is, it'd be a crime for me to tell you.

Really, that's the best you can do? I mean, most people, if they had a vision of heaven, they wouldn't hold onto it for 14 years. They wouldn't hold onto it for 14 hours.

They would tell you within the first 14 minutes what happened. Today on Connect with Skip Heitig, Pastor Skip shares a message about an astonishing vision the apostle Paul had of heaven. Now, here's a fascinating biography you are sure to want to add to your library. The best biographies contain the kind of intimate details that make you feel like you're getting personal access to the person you're reading about. From timeless icons to contemporary celebrities, it's exciting to learn about influential people. But one biography stands out above the rest, the biography of God.

Here's Skip Heitig. There's this vast, unfed hunger to know God personally. Discover the omnipotence, paradoxes, and mystery central to God's being, and remove the limits you may have placed on who God is. There is something uniquely elevating about focusing not on me, but on God. It will do something to you. Skip's perspective shifting book is our thanks when you give a gift of $50 or more to help keep Connect with Skip Heitig on the air.

Call 800-922-1888 or give securely online at slash offer. Okay, let's hear what Skip has for us today. We'll be in 2 Corinthians 12. Just by way of review, he wrote 2 Corinthians to explain to them why he was delayed in coming to them. He wrote 2 Corinthians to exhort them or to encourage them to forgive a sinning brother who had now repented and was to be admitted back into the fellowship. He wrote 2 Corinthians to enlist their financial support of the church in Jerusalem. He was taking up an offering and going to complete that offering when he swung through on the way to Judea. And finally, he wrote this book to enforce his own apostolic authority.

Chapter 12 is the climax of that defense that he gives. He admitted that he felt uneasy in standing up for himself and trying to enforce his own authority. He'd rather come in and serve them, but evidently a group, a small group, but a significant group caused a stir in the Corinthian church against Paul, accusing Paul that he wasn't a true apostle, accusing Paul that he had mixed motives, accusing Paul that he was trying to rip them off. And they had special letters of endorsement from the apostles in Jerusalem, and they themselves were super apostles coming in with authority and badmouthing Paul. So Paul felt it necessary to boast, he said, foolishly, as we saw last time. And so in coming now to the climax of Paul's defense, Paul's making a case for his own apostolic authority, he now unfolds for his audience a secret that he had kept for 14 years. Nobody knew about this, or he didn't write about this, or spread it around until now. He had some incredible experience where he was caught up into the third heaven, and he explains that.

That's part of his defense is what he had seen, the visions and revelations he had seen from the Lord. I remember back in 1969, how many of you were not even born yet? Okay, good. Did you just raise your hand, Chappy?

Okay, because you would be a liar if you did. You were around 1969. So in 1969, it was in July of 1969, two astronauts landed on the moon, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin. And their spacecraft was called the Eagle. It landed on an area of the moon known as the Sea of Tranquility. And when we were around, we were glued to the TV set, watching this unfold before us.

It was so exciting. First, humans on the moon. And as that spacecraft was landing in that area, the Sea of Tranquility, the first words we heard broadcasted from the moon was the statement, the Eagle has landed. Then at 10, 40, 50 something, almost 11 o'clock, well, I guess would that be moon time, lunar time, Eastern lunar time, whatever it was, Neil Armstrong took the step down the ladder and actually walked on the moon. And that famous quote, most everybody has heard it by now, that's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind. Imagine the experience of being the first human being to set foot on the moon. Well, what a lot of people don't know is when he came back, when Neil Armstrong returned to earth, a while later, he had an emotional breakdown. You see, where do you go from there? When you've walked on the moon, when you've experienced something that grand, everything down here pales in comparison.

The bills still come, the taxes are still due, your wife still argues with you, who do you think you are? Well, I walked on the moon, so walk in the garage and clean it out. And so after having such a grand experience on the moon, he found life down here, back here again, very difficult. He had an emotional breakdown. Now Paul the Apostle can beat Neil Armstrong.

He was caught up into the third heaven, and yet he didn't have an emotional breakdown, but it was a motivation for him, based on what he heard and what he saw, to live and to preach and to just go full blast for the glory of God. What happened 14 years before, it's been a secret for 14 years, and now he pulls it out and uses that in his defense. Once again, these super apostles who were visiting Corinth, we don't know much about them except they were very legalistic, claimed to have ties with the church in Jerusalem, said that you should get under the law of Moses in order to really be right with God, all of that nonsense.

And they claim to have credentials via letters of commendation. Paul said, we don't have letters of commendation, but here's my credentials. Basically, here's his profile in chapter 11, now chapter 12. Number one, I started churches all over the place. Number two, miracles were done at my hand.

He'll bring that up in chapter 12. And number three, visions and revelations. So it is doubtless not profitable, verse one, for me to boast I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord.

Now I'm going to pull this out of my bag of evidences of why I'm an apostle. Let me tell you about the visions and revelations I've had. Now Paul had quite a number of revelations that you and I know about. One is the vision of Christ, the resurrected Christ, on the way to Damascus. That's the first one we know about, where the Lord appeared to him and said, Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?

That changed his life. The second one we know about is when he is in Damascus, he sees a vision of a guy named Ananias coming to him, praying for him because Paul has been blinded by that experience on the Damascus road. A third vision we know about is in chapter 16 of the book of Acts, when Paul is in Troas and he sees a vision of a man from Macedonia saying, come over to Macedonia and help us. Then later on, he's in Corinth, the very church, the very city he is writing to. He went into the synagogue.

The Jews rejected his ministry there. He goes back to somebody's house and that night the Lord appears to him in a vision and says, Paul, don't sweat it. Don't worry. I have many people in this city. Don't hold back. Don't stay quiet.

I want you to speak up. And the people that the Lord had in that city, since the Jews rejected him, were the Gentile believers or unbelievers who became believers and are now the church of Corinth. So he gets a vision in Corinth about Corinth.

Then later on, the last one, well, that's not the last one. He's in Jerusalem. And he stands before the Jewish brethren.

They reject him. They stomp their feet and throw dust in the air and they demand his death. And so the Roman garrison arrests him.

And that night, while he is incarcerated, he gets a vision. And the Lord says, Paul, cheer up. As you have testified of me in Jerusalem, so you must testify of me in Rome. So now the Lord gives him a promise. You've done right here and you're going to go to Rome.

Now, in Paul's mind, he thought he's going to go to Rome as a missionary. What he finds out, what the Lord had in mind is he's going to Rome as a prisoner. So he gets arrested, taken to Caesarea.

He's there for two years. They put him on a boat. He makes a boat ride as a prisoner from Caesarea to Rome.

It's a rough journey. And at one point, the storm was so bad that an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a vision, a revelation, and said, you're going to testify before Caesar. You're going to preach the gospel to Caesar himself. You're not going to die on this trip. And God has granted you the safety of all those who sail with you. So the next day he says, I had a vision from an angel last night, the angel of the God to whom I serve. And he said, you're not going to die.

You're going to make it, all of us alive, but you better listen to me and follow my instructions. But vision after vision, revelation after revelation, he had quite a few. So it is doubtless not profitable for me to boast I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord. But now he pulls out one vision that nobody knew about till now.

It happened 14 years prior. He says, I know a man in Christ who, 14 years ago, whether in the body I do not know or out of the body I do not know. I don't know if it was an out-of-body experience or if I was transported actually into heaven. And I know you're saying, well, Paul didn't say I. He's not speaking first person. He's saying, I know a man in Christ. He's speaking third person. Verse 3, and I know such a man whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows. But when you get down to verse 5, he says, of such a one I will boast.

In other words, I'm that guy that I've been talking about in the third person. And you say, well, why does Paul begin by referring to himself in the third person? It was a very typical rabbinical way of storytelling. Rabbis often would do that.

Why? Because they did not want to take the glory, you know, I this and I that. They wanted to talk about themselves in the third person to put a little distance so as to appear not to be braggadocious, to give God the glory.

So that was a very typical thing to do. And notice, he says, I know a man in Christ 14 years ago, whether in the body I do not know or out of the body I do not know, God knows, such a one was caught up into the third heaven. Fourteen years before the writing of this epistle would place it oh, somewhere around 42 to 43 A.D., which was either when Paul was in Tarsus, remember after he was saved, he was in Damascus, created a ruckus, they had to let him over the wall in a garbage basket. He goes down to Jerusalem.

When he's down there, he creates another ruckus. He is in an uproar because this esteemed rabbi is following Yeshua and preaching about that in Jerusalem and they turned against him. And so the church was unsettled and they decided let's ship this guy back where he's from, Tarsus. And it says the church had peace after that.

I don't know if it was a healthy peace, but they shipped him back. Somewhere around that era or perhaps the next year because we're uncertain, the dating is a little bit ambiguous, it was either when he was in Tarsus about ready to come back to Jerusalem or it's when he was on his first missionary journey and many place it here, many scholars, most of the commentators that I have read, when Paul was on his first missionary journey going through Asia Minor, he stopped at a place called Lystra. And at Lystra, they stoned him, they threw rocks at him, they drug him out of the city supposing that he was dead and then all the disciples gathered around his body, probably praying for him, his eyes started fluttering and he sat back up, stood up and said, let's go back into town.

I didn't finish my sermon. Goes back into the city that stoned him and so scholars in trying to fit this 14 year before 2 Corinthians event, many of them land there when he went to Lystra and he was, when they stoned him and they thought he was dead, during that time he had this vision or revelation of God. Paul said it was so real, I don't know if it was an actual experience that I was taken to because it seemed so real, I was in the body or out of the body, I can't be sure, but this I know, I was caught up and the word is harpazo.

Anybody know what that word means? Raptured. I was caught up, snatched quickly, taken to heaven immediately, snatched up by force, harpazo, raptured into heaven and he calls it the third heaven. What does he mean by the third heaven?

Well, that's the place where God's glory is. The first heaven are the heavens if you have flown recently, the airplane flies through the first heaven. The atmospheric heavens is where the birds fly, the birds of the heaven the Bible talks about. So there is the atmospheric heaven, that's heaven number one. Heaven number two is the celestial heavens, the sun, the moon, the stars are arrayed beyond the atmospheric heavens, that's the second heaven. The third heaven you can't get to unless God takes you.

You can't get there. Yes, you can go into the atmospheric and celestial heavens, but you can't make it to the third heaven apart from God admitting you into it. There was a cosmonaut who said, I have flown through the heavens in my spacecraft and I never saw God. Well, you didn't go far enough. You only went into heaven number one and number two.

You can't get to number three unless God brings you there. What's funny about that is as he was boasting that there is no God because I've traversed the heavens in my spacecraft and I didn't see God, somebody in the audience whispered to a friend, if he would have stepped out of his spacesuit, he would have seen God. He said, and I know such a man, whether in the body or out of the body, I do not know, God knows how he was caught up into paradise and heard inexpressible words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter of such a one I will boast, yet of myself I will not boast except in my infirmities. The word paradise, which in the Greek word is almost exactly like English, paradisis, or paradise on is how it's used in this text, literally means a walled garden, a walled garden.

Persian kings often had private walled enclosed gardens ornately decorated with beautiful verdant plants around where they would enjoy themselves with their family and on occasion would honor a guest by letting that guest walk personally with the king in his paradise, his walled garden. That's the word that Paul uses. I was caught up in the God's garden. We had a walk, a personal encounter that I had with the living God, and he said, of such a one I will boast.

In other words, I'm identifying myself now in the first person as the guy that I've been writing about in the third person, but then he wants to explain that of myself I will not boast except in my infirmities. Paul, why did you keep it quiet for so long? Fourteen years.

You know, if Paul had not written 2 Corinthians and needed to enforce his apostleship against those who had called it into question, we never would have known. That's what's interesting to me. It's like, what? Wait a minute. You're saying that you saw heaven? You heard things in heaven? You got a vision of heaven? Tell me more. And all Paul can say is, ah, it'd be a crime for me to tell you.

Really, that's the best you can do? I mean, most people, if they had a vision of heaven, they wouldn't hold on to it for 14 years. They wouldn't hold on to it for 14 hours. They would tell you within the first 14 minutes what happened.

In fact, they would probably call a publisher and get a book deal and make a movie about it and get the rights to it. Not Paul. It was such a personal experience. He heard things that were for his ears only, and all he can say is if I were to try to explain it to you, it'd be a crime. Now, on one hand, I tried him for that. You've just heard me do that.

On the other hand, I understand that. How would you explain a beautiful sunset? And we have some beautiful sunsets around here.

Or if you've ever been to the Pacific Ocean and watched the sun sink down in the horizon, explain what you're seeing to a blind person. Oh, you know, the sunset had this beautiful hue of orange. Orange?

What is that? I felt an orange. It's kind of rough. Well, more later on, like red.

Red? I mean, they don't have a point of reference. How would you explain to somebody who lacks the faculties to appreciate it?

It defies a description. It would be like telling a six-year-old you're really going to enjoy your honeymoon. Why bother? Or like kids at a dinner table, and they're supposed to eat their vegetables while you have a cake on the other end of the table. It's like, I'm sorry, I'm distracted by that cake. It's hard for me to focus on this while being distracted with that. And so perhaps we aren't told that for that reason.

The distraction may be so great. But anyway, Paul experienced it. It was for his ears only. He said it would be a crime for me to even, not even lawful for a man to utter of such a one I will boast, yet of myself I will not boast except in my infirmity.

So explain that in a minute. For though I might desire to boast, I will not be a fool, for I will speak the truth, but I forbear lest anyone should think of me above what he sees me to be or hears from me. That's Skip Hyten giving you a glimpse of Paul's vision of heaven. His message is from the series Expound, 2 Corinthians.

Find the full message as well as books, booklets and full teaching series at Right now we want to tell you about a special opportunity you have to take your knowledge of the Bible to a deeper level. Imagine turning your desire to make a difference for the kingdom of God into a purposeful and fulfilling career in ministry. Calvary Church of Albuquerque is pleased to announce a partnership with Southeastern University, a fully accredited Christian university. The Southeastern University partnership with Calvary launches with the fall 2024 semester offering online degrees from Southeastern University in general education as well as several ministerial leadership degrees. Visit slash schools to learn more about available degree programs, tuition and financial aid details and to start your application.

All classes begin soon. So check out the SEU at Calvary webpage to learn more about this incredible new partnership with Southeastern University and begin your Christ-centered flexible degree program today. The website again is slash schools. That's slash schools. Tomorrow, Skip shares a powerful lesson on fighting your spiritual enemy, the devil.

Don't miss it. So again, God knows how to perfectly balance and you go, this is from the devil. So what? Don't you think God is sovereign enough to control and what he allows in your life? So learn how to fight the devil. Learn how to use spiritual warfare. Connect with Skip Hyten is a presentation of Connection Communications, connecting you to God's never changing truth in ever changing times.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-05-14 06:10:02 / 2024-05-14 06:18:38 / 9

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