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The Greatest Thing Happening Today

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice
The Truth Network Radio
August 16, 2021 8:00 am

The Greatest Thing Happening Today

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice

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August 16, 2021 8:00 am

As the young church in Corinth grew in size, its membership faced new struggles on the path toward holiness, just as believers and churches do today. The Apostle Paul sent the letter we know as II Corinthians to encourage these believers to grow up in their faith. Dr. Boice illuminates all of Paul’s key points, including God’s comfort in affliction; forgiving people who have hurt us; the blessings of generosity; and why God allows thorns in our lives.

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Welcome to the Bible study human Ministry of finance of convincing evangelicals featuring the Bible teaching of Dr. James Boyce for more information please contact us by calling toll-free one 804 88 18 and now the alliance is pleased to present the Bible study our preparing you to think and act biblically studying Paul's second letter to the Corinthians, and our study tonight brings us to chapter 2 verse five where we pick up somewhat in the midst of what Paul is talking about and were going to carry our study through the end of chapter 3 on the surface this is a section that seems to deal with very diverse things you analyze it in terms of the type of material, Paul presents you find three different things. There is a section in which Paul refers to a disciplinary case that existed in the church in Corinth, which had been handled and twitching our response was a personal section in which he begins to talk about his own ministry, and reflects upon its nature and its effects.

Then there is a theological section comes at the very end, in which he contrasts the old covenant with the new covenant much in favor of the new covenant in which he ends up by speaking of the effect of the new covenant in the lives of people with whom God is working fine however is high. Look at this section and reflect on these three things that their pride together in the sense that each of them in their own way. Describe what God is doing in the world because they speak of what God is doing in the world they speak about the most important thing that is happening in the world today, we live in a very restless age we live in a time when people are dissatisfied with what they have or have seen which they're looking about for something new and are therefore internally if not externally rushing about from place to place to see if I can find something that will satisfy them something that is really where it's at today. I reminded of our Lord. Speaking of the end times and saying that the final days they would be doing that so far as a an identity of the Messiah political figure is concerned, they would say look, he's over here. Let's come and see a marinade running inside always over here. Let's go and see them over there are lords that don't pay any attention to that because the end is not yet those are just passing things doing that today. Some people think that where you're going to find where it's really at today's politics is as great mythology about the political system the way things really happen is in a political way. Think we need to read a fresh chakra lose book on the political illusion and hear what he saying about the political system. There is an attempt by politicians by the media and everything else to build that up as if this is really where the power is with the power for change is not really in the political system is a valuable thing in its own way. Like any other aspect of our life and work, but the place where changes really take place is in the lives of people and that reflects itself in the political system rather than being the other way around. Many people say oh no way to get something really to happen is like so-and-so or something of that nature done. Some people think the place where it sat us in the entertainment world may follow after somebody who is the singer of the moment door of the band the moment of the group of the moment. I was ready in time magazine week or so ago about a group that has a number of followers were so loyal that wherever this group performs they always go matter where it is if they're performing in Los Angeles. All of followers of this particular rock group get on buses and cars and drive out to Los Angeles for the concert in the group is playing in New York.

They all go the other way to go to New York for this because that's where it's at for these people. I suppose same things also prove sports people think that that's where it's at now.

The apostle Paul was one who was unaware of what was going on in the world you have to do is read his letters carefully look at the imagery to be perfectly aware that the new much about the social life of his day uses images from sports, for example, I don't have any doubt, thinking that the apostle Paul witnessed sports events in the Greek and Roman world because you can use that imagery speaking about himself describing himself as a runner and striving for the prize not beating the air with no effect such things. Paul knew all of this, but if you had said to the apostle Paul is not really the important thing in life is really the area of life where one should poor one's interest and spend one's time and exhibit one's enthusiasm.

Apostle Paul would've said without any question that to do that is the height of folly, because what really matters. What matters now and what matters for eternity is what God is doing in the world lives of people who are being rescued from sin being made alive your righteousness and are being transformed from within by power of God's Holy Spirit is what he talks about in this section talks about three aspects of it. I want you to look at these portions of chapter 2 and three. In that way when aspect is the forgiveness of sins. In the case in which he embodies this great reality is the case of the semantic Corinth, who had been guilty of some great sin for a long time in the history of the church. Nobody ever question the identity of this particular individual discussed in verses five through 11 in chapter 2. Obviously, people thought it's a character who is mentioned in the first letter in the fifth chapter where Paul gives instructions for church discipline. We read that earlier passage.

This is the man who was guilty of incest.

And Paul says it's not right that should be allowed to continue in the church has to be discipline you have to make clear that that conduct is incompatible with Christian profession and apparently the church had been lax in doing that. So Paul is writing very strongly insisting that they do it saying that if kind of spiritual discipline is not carried out in the church while he was going to have to call as an apostle and see that it was done relatively modern times commentators on the second letter when they came to chapter 2. Assume that the person being spoken of here is the same one now the discipline has been affected the effect of the discipline was achieved and demanded repented of his sin and now Paul is saying. Bring them back into the fellowship welcoming show the love that you have always had for him demonstrated in the discipline as well. As in other things I say that has prevailed in a relatively modern times and get surprisingly enough in our day. It's hard to find that you accepted by the majority of commentators. Their argument is something like this. They say that is incompatible.

But Paul could speak in such strong language in the first letter. Speaking of discipline as harshly as he dies and on the second letter changes tone completely and speak of showing love and restoring this man as openly as he does some of these modern interpreters of the book have Doug back into antiquity and found one example in antiquity of somebody who thought not, with the majority opinion but in a way more or less compatible with modern thought this man was Tertullian. Tertullian also thought that this was something else and he said that this offense it's dealt with in the second chapter must've been something much less thing far less serious than that. Matter of incest mentioned in the first letter because according Tertullian would be impossible for Paul to be as open as he was modern commentators are picked up on that. The problem with that of course is that Tertullian was biased by a wrong theology at this point Tertullian had the idea, which unfortunately has been encapsulated in some Roman Catholic theology that there are sins in a number of them which just cannot be forgiven and incest is one of them followed. From that, according to Tertullian that if this man had been guilty of incest is the man in the first letter apparently was then Paul could not actually be speaking of a restoration here problem with it is that it is precisely people who are guilty of sins like that. Another sentence to read to hear the gospel need to be restored. Need to repent of sin need to be brought into the fellowship of the church assured of forgiveness and all those things and that certainly is what Paul is talking about Philip use was written. Marvelous contemporary commentary on this as I believe, quite rightly, that there is no compelling reason whatsoever for not regarding the case in the second letter as same case we find in chapter 1 and that's the case here. We have an example of what discipline is really to do in the church as a matter fact that's the way Paul talked about it in the first letter Paul said, you must discipline this man, you must give them over to Satan for the working out of destruction and is flashed in order that he might be saved in the day of God's judgment was Paul's desire.

Sin destroys Paul said, you mustn't pretend the fellowship of the church. It is all right to do these things and somehow it doesn't matter. You must point out that does matter, is incompatible with Christian profession. You must exercise discipline.

For that reason, but simply so that when the discipline's exercise of the man really is a brother and a believer in Christ we rescued from that. That's what happened exercise the discipline the man did repent was restored to fellowship now.

Paul says reach out your arms to him and restoring him because this man is part of the brotherhood is funny how weak we are at that point we were weak on both sides either. On the one side the modern church refuses to discipline attending that righteousness doesn't matter, but it doesn't make any difference whether you obey the commands of Jesus Christ are not either treat all moral issues with laxity or the other hand, we treated so harshly that when a person is discipline. We rule them out of the kingdom entirely ceased to pray for them and even if they repent.

Years later, we can hardly bring ourselves to receive a person like that back in the Christian Fellowship. See is precisely the opposite, that should be done both of those points. Instead of saying well here's a sin to great to be forgiven. Pray for repentance and seek forgiveness in order that the one who has sin might be restored both to fellowship with God and the fellowship of his Christian brothers and sisters.

That's one of the greatest things can possibly happen today or at any other time sinners being rescued coming to the knowledge of sin and pressing sin for sinking the sin and be restored. The Christian Fellowship. I told the story before but it's quite appropriate at this point that Ray Stedman who is the pastor of the Peninsula Bible Church out in Palo Alto, California, and who is faced a number of serious problems of this nature. It is long, long, effective ministry describes that one occasion I had a young man in the church who grew in spiritual things and was selected to position of authority as an elder or the equivalent and who it turned out along the way somehow in fallen into all kinds of sin.

And with that particular point was unwilling to repent of it began with sexual sin did the compound itself. He got into a variety of activities including gambling and use of drugs in this life is just going downhill that members of the church tried to work with him and he was resistance to that eventually left the community went away. They kept hearing reports from time to time was terrible.

He lost his job.

He had no money was dripping, he became virtually down and out, or as a result of this sin that eventually they lost contact with them. Years and years went by.

Then one day showed up again. God had reached he repented of his sin. He turned from money come back. Now he was seeking restoration in the community from which he had fallen and were disappointed and exercised. They were very slow careful as they should've been examined and there was a period of trial. See if he really was stable in these bad habits had really been shaken off. They had a time in which he made risk petition for things that he and Don they came to the end of that. And they were ready to receive a formal way back in the fellowship again and restoring to some of his responsibility and Ray Stedman said to them, you know you've done very well in all of this. But there's one more thing that you have to do I were having a formal meeting of the elders you have to appear before them for this formal final meeting and he said all I been through so much. I really have to do that yes said Pastor Stedman, you do. We said all right that's what I have to do, I'll do that and they arranged was to be meeting at Ray Stedman's house certain evening and the elders were all invited. He was to come in a certain hour and he did when he came at that hour, the evening he found that the elders were already there and what they had done was prepare a barbecue out in the backyard. He didn't know it in advance, but it turned out that it was going to be a party and what they did was a reenactment of the parable of the prodigal who I come home as he came into the room. They said now here's a coach you have to put on they bought Amoco and they said it isn't raining. The chapter where and out in the yard for the barbecue was literally the fatted calf and they sat down and they ate together, because great was the joy in heaven over the sinner who repents and others. Joy in heaven over that there should be joy on earth to this is what Paul is talking about when he talks about this man would send in Corinth I read this that I think there is the heart of a pastor there's a man. It was so delighted you know you see elders and pastors as they practice discipline and sometimes people say all you know there hardly must enjoy doing that though Elder enjoys this is one of the hardest thing he ever do you wrestle with that. You don't want to be too harsh and want to be too easy to pray for guidance.

That is the case here. Here discipline is passed. Restoration is achieved and Paul is just overflowing with joy. He is so happy but that was effective. Satan tried to outwit us. He says he didn't succeed. The greatest thing you could possibly happen happen this man turned back from said lesson first and secondly begins to talk about is ministry 20s explaining some of the technical details. This is where you explain how we went to troll as he was supposed to be Titus. There Titus didn't call me was restless. The Lord opened the great door of opportunity for him, but he was still restless. He was so concerned about the Christians at Corinth study wanted to go on, so we left troll as is on the Turkish mainland crossover across the Straits, there to Macedonia and finally somewhere. They are Macedonians, where he met Titus now he goes on from there talking about his ministry and his aspirations and his concern for the Corinthians gets him talking about what it is that God's been doing in his life and the way his ministry is progressing begins to introduce a number of these images that I talked about earlier. Paul apparently seen triumphal procession where the great Roman generals when they came back from decisive battle for conquest on the fringes of the Empire would lead back in their train captives, some to be set free, some to be executed, and Paul picks up that image and he says oh that's really all I am. I'm a captain to Jesus Christ. He's conquering general and he has led me along his train. I'm just going where he leads and what he does. That's what I'm delighted to do talks about aroma the aroma of Christ spreading among those were perishing.

Some commentators have suggested that that was one of the tasks of the captives in the triumphal procession. I'm not sure that's true. I think maybe Paul here is simply mingling images but anyway that's what he's talking about a saying you know and Christ is leading me captive, but wherever we go. Those of us were Christ captives. We come spreading the sweet fragrance of Jesus Christ. Honesty compels him to say it's not always loved those who hate Christ in his kingdom and where we go spreading the sweet aroma of Christ's gospel are people who made it when they respond in that way that we should be a message of life and the life is that the message of death.

So were both ministers of death. On the one hand, ministers of life on the other hand, but he says you know great thing is that where we go with that gospel. God does use it to bring many to faith in life comes in people who were spiritually dead before and remain spiritually alive and although he says that's just a wonderful thing. Furthermore, the Corinthians were among that number. Paul gets into a section here where he begins to talk about letters of recommendation. Apparently it was a problem in the church. There were some people he said. Need letters of recommendation, perhaps at is a reference to his enemies there at Corinth. They must've said look we come with letters of recommendation, but whose fault he doesn't have any letters of recommendation. That's true. Paul didn't Paul was an apostle who would recommend an apostle all spoke by inspiration of the Holy Spirit and he wrote same way. But Paul says you know there are letters of recommendation, but I have those letters of recommendation are not things that somebody some friend of mine some ecclesiastical body some authority in Jerusalem or anywhere else has been able to write on my behalf.

Those letters are you yourselves hereby letters of recommendation because you see in your own heart. The effect of the gospel that I preach like, as a minister of death in the death of life and the life and those that receive the gospel experience the newness of life, which is to be found in Jesus Christ and you will among that number you say, what are the great things that are happening today. There is there is not only that people who are sinners sign forgiveness of sin, but people who were dead in sin find newness of life that way. That is the only really new thing that's happening in human history. But you read in the newspapers, always the same thing my father had a saying he used to say it's just the same thing happening to different people ever thought of that wiping out the newspaper same thing happening to different people every night, same thing believe that once the evening news. I mean it's the same two things happening to different people is always a flyer, you know that that's the way the news goes, history repeats itself same problems, same sin, same discouragements same disappointments. The only really new thing happening in all of history is that newness that comes from God spirit of the hearts and minds of people to surrender to Jesus Christ.

All God works in that way. He brings newness of life and morality follows all of the blessings, walking in God's way. That's what Paul is talking about somebody speaks of his ministry side in terms of how important he considers himself today but it's what God does through Paul, slave in the triumphal procession of Jesus Christ how this whole section the portion that I really like the best is the last. First, this example about forgiveness of sins. Restoration that's a wonderful thing. Any stock secondly about the ministry of life follows from the preaching of the gospel and that is a glorious thing. Now he begins to talk about the moral personal transformation of those who heard and responded that gospel away gets into it is interesting, Paul mentions in verse six that God has made us. That is, the apostles, competent as ministers of the new covenant.

I'm sure he talked about the new covenant. Many times I think I know where he got it.

Jeremiah speaks about a new covenant was an old covenant was the covenant of the law.

This new and you shall live. We can't do it we die law brings death out of that background. Jeremiah said, speaking for God, behold, I will make a new covenant with you that day I will take that law which in the past was written upon tables of stone, and I will write it up on the fleshly tables of your heart. What Jeremiah meant as he spoke for God is a God was going to provide for the keeping of the law by internal change in the lives of those who should hear the gospel of Jesus Christ. When Paul talks about a new covenant.

That's what is thinking of any mentions that word and it seems to me it it's as if it's an awful train of thought for him and covenants new covenant to begin something begins to expound upon the differences between that which is old and that which is new.

I've numbered some of the contrast that I see here. First of all, the old covenant and the new covenant.

Those of the Titleist I noticed same verse, verse six, one of the letter but of the spirit as one is simply written down the laws there. You can read it, but it doesn't change anything. But here is the other of the spirit that is of the Holy Spirit produces changes in people one is vital. The other is simply static contrast number two. The letter kills side as he pronounces a judgment can do anything else we can keep the law condemns spot. He says the spirit gives life letter, spirit, death, life one little bit further verse seven and verse eight, one is glorious even though it is an effective changing people. It's glorious because it's the law of God was given on Sinai with great glory.

Glorious Cassie says spot the new covenant is much more gloriously you have Warren much more warriors next contrast is in verse nine, the one condemns accomplishes its purpose. It exposes sin result that his condemnation but he says the new covenant actually brings righteousness and then in verse 11.

The old was fading away with the new. He says has a glory which lasts this lease balder brought on this image of Moses the veil over his face. It's an interesting portion of the Old Testament Moses when he was up on the mountain communing with God came back down had his countenance a transferred glory being with God all the time on the mountain something of the glory of God to communicated itself to Moses and his face were told there low with such a glory that the Israelites were near and couldn't bail look up bear to look at it. So he covered his face with a veil about Paul picks up on that begins to play with as little image you know he says yes and that's the way it is again today.

Speaking of the Jewish people now on others as well as his is a veil over their eyes I can see it see the glory of God is there in the gospel. Those of us who can see it.

Most of us who have received this new life about what she's been talking in the earlier portion of the chapter he says we not only have life gazing upon the glory of God or transform from within into that glory from glory to glory by the power of God that is a marvelous thing.

What you have here in this last portion of second Corinthians 3 is the culmination of that great doctrine of the image of God, which you find introduced way back the very beginning of the Bible in the first chapters of Genesis is four stages back in the beginning of Genesis. You are told that God made the man and the woman in God's image motions. At some difficulty talking about what that means but it certainly means that the man and the woman were made like God is personalities like God and moral righteousness. The image of God was in the land in the woman and that was their glory is what made them different from the animal creation that image of God was lost in the fall.

That's the second stage is some difference in theology about what actually happened was the image on early face blotted out, so there's no image of God anymore at all or is image of God D face, so it's still there sort of remnant form but certainly not what God intended it to be. I can think as I read Scripture that image was defaced terribly defaced so much so that you can't recognize the character of God, and fallen men and women all over the last of something there that makes them still different from the animals and something special and something which has value even in a fallen state. That's the second thing the image of God and man man made in God's image. The image of God defaced as a result of sin. Third stage is the image of God revealed again in the person of Jesus Christ.

Christ came. There was the image of God that we had lost for thousands of years, ever since the fall of Adam.

Nobody had seen what it was to be in the image of God to actually reflect that image in the midst of this kind of a world of Jesus Christ. It there, you have the example of what men and women ought to be here this last portion of second Corinthians 3. You have the final stage and that those who by faith are united to the Lord Jesus Christ, the perfect revelation of the image of God. Now by that same power from within transformed once more into his image. That is glorious that is happening today and that is along with these other things. The greatest thing happening in the world that sinful men and women, men and women who, in themselves, know anything about God, let alone try to serve him and find able to do so. Such sinful men and women by the grace of God are lifted often purified of their sin and set on the new way and why the work of God within progressively day by day chain into the image of Jesus Christ. So they begin to reflect his glory in the world. I just ask. Is that true of you.

You one who has known the forgiveness of God moment ago was pointed out that that's where it all begins at his word begins. If you don't know that you're forgiven with God.

You'll never sense forgiveness from other men and women you have forgiveness of God is a sense in which with your accepted by other men and women doesn't matter at all because you're right with God. You know that you know the newness of life, about which Paul is speaking has led gospel been a ministry of life to you is or something in you. Now that was not there before God working in you day by day transform you into his image. The image of Jesus Christ. This comes from the Lord. That's what Paul says is a matter fact you can read this chapter and you'll find all of it is of the Lord. I find it there in verse 12, the Lord opened the door for me. Paul says, speaking of his own ministry.

Verse 14 God leads us in triumphal procession baths of God, you find it in verse five of the next chapter. Our competence comes from God. Verse six he made his ministers of the company covenant that's from God. Finally, the end transformation.

Paul says comes from God as well.

That's where it comes from. You need to spend time with God. You need to study the word. That's where you find them because it says you study the word that's the radiance and glory of God is trans-furred DOS, we become ministers of righteousness ministers of life and the life in the midst of this dying world spray our father. We confess that in this world with its many conflicting claims we find so much exciting that is actually passing away, and has nothing to do with that greatest of all works.

Your work of transforming center into a manifestation of your own righteousness of father we thank you that you are working best with your people. We would ask that you would continue to work boldly and us we might become more like Jesus that others might see him in us, to the praise of his great glory.

You are listening to Bible study hours with the Bible teaching of Dr. James Boyce listener supported ministry of the alliance of confessing Evangelicals. The alliance exists to promote a biblical understanding and worldview. Drawing upon the insight and wisdom of reformed theologians from decades and even centuries gone by. We seek to provide Christian teaching that will equip believers to understand and meet the challenges and opportunities of our time and place. Alliance broadcasting includes the Bible study hour with Dr. James Boyce every last word with Bible teacher, Dr. Philip Aiken, God's living word with pastor, the Rev. Richard Phillips and Dr. Barnhouse in the Bible featuring Donald Barnhouse.

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