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Knocked Down but Not Knocked Out

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice
The Truth Network Radio
August 17, 2021 8:00 am

Knocked Down but Not Knocked Out

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice

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August 17, 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 our radio and Internet Ministry of the Alliance of confessing 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, God is doing in the lives of people through the gospel as they turn from sin find forgiveness and are renewed and transformed by God's power is literally the most important thing that is happening our time. The world doesn't think that way world looks at politics. All of the attention that political figures gap and they say all what's important.

Must be what's happening in Washington all I wish I was a congressman or senator. Then I could do something important or even greater than that. Think what it would be to be the president of the United States for some people look at the academic world where people are producing books and have a great deal of attention drawn to them because the kind of things they're saying in the thoughts that they're developing and they say all that's where it's at. I wish I could do something like that. While I don't want to pretend that those things don't have importance in their own sphere. Certainly they do wear happier when we have qualified people in positions of responsibility and even happier still with her qualified Christians as well, but in spiritual terms, which are the things that matter.

After all, because were spirit beings were not creatures just of this age in spiritual terms, the most important things that are happening are those things that happen spiritually in the lives of individual people who meet God through Jesus Christ and are transformed. That's why Paul can write as he does here in this letter a man who, from the world's point of view, spurious little attention at all. On the contrary was hounded and persecuted and pressed almost to death as he says in the passage were going to look at tonight but he did lose heart and that because his ministry was the greatest ministry.

There was what was happening through it and through the lives of other Christians were also bearing a testimony was the greatest thing in all the world, so he talks about the forgiveness of sins and the bringing of new life. Those who are spiritually dead in the transformation that Takes Pl. in Christians has with unveiled faces a reflect the Lord's glory and are transformed into his likeness.

Let raises an interesting question.

If that is true. The gospel really is this glorious is all that what happens through the sharing of the gospel really is the greatest thing in all the world and how, so many Christians speak about it so little and are so little concern to have other men and women come to a knowledge of the Christian faith asked the question. Is it perhaps because we don't really believe the gospel is that glorious that may be we say we do.

Maybe we don't really believe it. Is it perhaps lacks where put off by the difficulties and discouraged by the hardships we face in chapter 4 deals with the second of those possibilities, and it deals with it in terms of the experience of the apostle Paul himself this letter as I said before is a very personal letter, Paul talks about his own circumstances. Early on, right in the first chapter at the very beginning.

He talks about it here talk about it again. He speaks about his many hardships in trying to carry out this ministry in his time, but his example is a great example because although he experience these difficulties.

He did not, as the says in verse one of chapter 4 lose heart on the contrary, carried on any the board a great witness to the very end. And when he came to the end of his life he could say and see wrote to his young follower Timothy now there is laid up for me a great crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall award in that day and not only to me but also to all who love is coming to an outline for this chapter. Taken in two parts. First of all, a description of the ministry itself find it versus one through six and then secondly, a description of the ministers and their experience in verses seven through 17 in his verse again which come somewhat as a conclusion interesting to look at this ministry. Paul talks about it the way he went about things he say how much he suffered in the ministry were inclined to say. Certainly, people would say it is day well no wonder it's the way you go about it. We know people that are persecuted because of the way they go about things. They are so obnoxious, it is no wonder that all the people treat them badly in the other direction when they see them coming, one white said this fall but this is not the case. Paul set Paul speaks negatively of his ministry. So some things you didn't do verse two and then he speaks in the second half of that verse positively of one thing he did do it.

It's very interesting look at that three things he said he didn't do the service. First, I renounced secret and shameful ways. I don't know exactly what it is that Paul is referring to their certainly had something specific in mind, I tell you what I think it is when he combines those words secret that is unknown, something that only the initiates of a particular religion with not go with the word shameful, which is Paul generally uses.

It has to do with sexual things that should not be brought out in the open, which any person should be ashamed when he puts those two terms together.

What he's probably thinking of this the way the missionaries of the various mystery religions in his day went about their business return mystery religions and bodies that idea secret. That was a kind of religious practice were a variety of these mystery religions we would call them cults that there was a kind of secret knowledge that only the initiates were supposed to have. And you could be invited into it and sit on the outside and you could learn a certain amount and then when you learn a certain amount your body in a little bit closer and you were taught a little bit more and then you were brought in a little bit more all the time. This was very secretive and it was from this kind of knowledge to secret knowledge, often with said that it been passed down from the ancients from generation to generation that you eventually found the way of salvation. Paul knew that in many of those religions that were despicable sexual practices that went on a bench delay.

They became, in many cases nothing but excuses for all kinds of illicit sexual activity. I think what Paul is saying here is set to see when about with the Christian gospel. He was well aware that there were other people going about the Gospels of these mystery religions and because of the nature of these religions. They were gathering up adherence yet. Paul says, contrary to the truth, righteousness of God and I renounced all that I do not go about my business and that way now are going to find that there are parallels every one of those things today. We talk about the ancient mystery religions. We don't have them. Strictly speaking today though we do have an influx into this country of the Eastern religions and some of the overtures and overtones of their but we do have cults today and many of the cults practice exactly this way, children of God, called as an example Daniel Moberg in the way that group functions the sort of things that I just described. Go on literally in that cult that cult draws many many people.

But Paul says we renounced all that that is not God's way. Secondly we don't use deception either sections, falsification is pretending to do one thing when actually you're doing something else. I regret to say that that also takes place in so-called advertisement of religion often even in so-called Christian communities, something will be put forward to attract people, which is really not what the religion is all about and it will be done simply because well the argument would go you have to do something to get them in after you get them in. Then you can work with them and that such a tragedy because deception is wanted is imagined, Christians who are supposed to know the truth and to worship the God of truth and to be filled. The spirit of truth. Imagine Christian operating in any way other than an utterly upper right, forthright, truthful manner, and yet unfortunately those things go on. I just finished his you know here Sunday evenings series of studies on discipleship, but I must say again I say it's often with the best of well I must say, there are many evangelicals that do that in their theology they pair off the hard edges of Christianity. The difficult sayings of Jesus Christ because they say well you know if you start without you turn people off, they won't even listen you have to sugarcoat the message first and and then bring them along the tragedy of courses that the other aspects of the gospel never do get mentioned when we look to Jesus Christ and his example, we find that he didn't do that.

Jesus always painted the difficulty from the very beginning that if you follow may have to give up everything else to be willing to follow me you to do it to death. He didn't falsify his message and neither did the apostle Paul. He said we renounced all of that to this third thing you mention this maybe comes even closer to what many evangelicals do we said we don't distort the word of God either is to do with imbalance not possible to speak about things that are true to do it in a false way in the sense of stressing something because that happens to be the word of the moment people are interested in that and leave out things that are also part of the truth necessary for a well rounded presentation of the faith is not so much the case today, although in some places it is but a generation or so ago, people did this with prophecy. All that was a fascinating subject.

Study the Bible to find out all the things were going to happen in the future then correlated with current events.

So when the Russians did something you could say all yeah it's right there in Revelation when something happened in the near East had to do with oil. Oh yeah that's right there in the book of Ezekiel, and so on. Well, I'm not against prophecy. One of the Bible is prophecy and it's as much a narrative neglect prophecy, it is it is over emphasize it. But at that particular period of history. At any rate it was I believe a certain imbalance and other things that were necessary for the health of the church were left out. Paul says no we don't do that either. We don't renounced. We don't practice shameful and secret ways we do not use deception. We do not distort even the word of God. Why we say to Paul, what is it then that you do. And Paul says it quite clearly on the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God.

That's what it's about. It's as simple as that. It is simply setting forth the truth plainly always try to do it is instantly as possible. We tried illustrated in the particular theological subjects are difficult to comprehend what the goal in all of it is to make it plain sometimes the people talk to me after service and I leave out the comments with a sad and understand the word you are saying that the other one. Sometimes people will say to me, all you make it so simple and sometimes I apologize any tingling in a way I don't mean that I don't mean that it's it's it's so simple that it's not profound, but you make it so simple.

They say always pleased with innovative because the business of trying to sound profound when I tried to take this and explain it in such intricate detail that everybody says always that wonderful. I wonder one of the world means the job is to make it as clear as we can you say well I read it and it is unclear that's true.

These are God's ways, not our ways. But the problem there. You see, is it we bear the difficulty in ourselves what we need to do is have the darkness in our minds dispelled in the fall again. Are thinking removed and then see things clearly as God presents them to us in his word and say well, Paul did that he didn't do it very successfully because when the went about speaking the truth plainly it was obviously rejected.

He himself gives testimony to it when he says later on. It is very chapter he was hard-pressed perplexed, persecuted, struck down, given over to death in such things. That is true but the difficulty is, he was not in Paul, the difficulty was not in Paul's message.

The difficulty is in the heart of men and women but does not want to submit itself that truth. Have a great example in the case of Jesus himself. Jesus certainly spoke plainly. He spoke brilliantly read the Beatitudes. Once complex about the Beatitudes are fairly straightforward, clear teaching.

This is the way to happiness is Jesus Martin her way out of the world like this is the way I think of that occasion that John records in the 10th chapter which that word plain is used.

Jesus had been teaching and the people of the date and really like what he was teaching, and they raise this matter of him being the Messiah and they said to him you know if you are the Christ, tell us plainly speak plainly to us.

Of course he had been speaking plainly along said very clearly that he was the Christ.

They didn't want to hear it.

They asked the question again speak plainly and so we did the verses that follow, that contain some of the plaintiffs teaching by Christ in all the Gospels. He takes teaches there about the depravity of man about God's electing grace and salvation and God's keeping power with the same sound, not one is ever going to be lost. Once God gives them to Jesus. And I hold them in my hand in the father holds him in his hands very clear what he has to say no at the end of that after he had talked plainly to them. We find then they pick up stones to stone him, and they tried to seize him, but he slipped away out of their hand. The difficulty isn't with the complexity of the gospel of the gospel is playing older our parts we have to wrestle with things we don't fully understand the gospel is playing. That's not the difficulty gospel difficulty is that we don't want the gospel and that's what Paul talks about. He said you see if our gospel is veiled is veiled to those who are perishing, and the reason is this the god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, lets the ministry beginning in verse seven. Paul begins to talk about the ministers and he himself is the example those speaks of the plural significantly.

Paul is saying here you say this is my experience a long look how much I've suffered all this and doing that speaking in more general terms. Speaking personally because he has a personal relationship with these students and their interested what he experience but he says no, no, this is been true of the apostles as a whole and to some extent it's true of other people as well, at least it's true. When they trying to bear witness for Christ. Paul begins with an image he says you know what we really are we ministers of this glorious gospel is jars of Clay C1 matters is what God puts in the vessel. From our point of view. What matters is whether or not we make that decibel vessel available for God to use your life as a vessel when you can hold that back you can say no I wanted for myself. All sorts of things I want to fill it up with. I want to fill it up with pleasurable experiences I want to fill it up with wisdom of the world and I want to fill it up with fame, prestige, and money. And if that's what you want to fill your life with. That's what you get. And because all those things are perishable, what your life contains parishes when you do or you can do it Paul. You can give that vessel over the Lord Jesus Christ allow him to fill it out, but he doesn't fill it up with things. The parish is not with the glory of the gospel when he uses you to spread this great treasure of the men and women. Now Paul says doesn't mean that our way is easy say I think he probably is thinking of the emperors bringing back the treasurer and the jars of Clay because earlier. He was talking about himself being part of that kind of procession.

He said that procession I come along as a slave in that triumphal procession of Christ and the world's point of view, that's precisely the way I've been treated so of all the apostles. He spells it out in verse eight. Later on his talk in specific terms about what he endured hunger in the beatings and so forth.

Here he talks in more general terms and get terms that aptly summarizes experience. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed perplexed, but not in despair persecuted, but not abandoned, struck down, but not destroyed. Verse 11.

We are always being given over to death for Jesus sake you see yourself in any of those terms.

You tried to share the gospel. If you've tried to live for Christ.

I think as I look at these terms that they increase in intensity and that somewhere along the line. Most of his dropout just our experience doesn't go as far as the apostles, but for faithful. I think we are to be there somewhere.

First thing Paul says is where hard pressed on every side you don't hard pressed on every side.

I don't know good Christian worker doesn't feel hard-pressed on every sidedly.

Sometimes some of us are hard pressed by circumstances are not always easy. Many of us are hard pressed by problems. The problems of other people.

It's hard to cope problems of the world are unending and if you make yourself available to trying to work with people where they are with their difficulties well. There is no end. Those that will calm her needs will be presented to you and if you have any sensitivity at all. You say yes yes we are hard-pressed many times as we try to meet those needs.

I find speaking personally. That's the kind of experience increases with me throughout the church year when I come back from vacation in the fall.

I don't feel hard-pressed, I'm ready to go.

At least you still get older I feel quite so ready but as the eye begin in the fall. Well, things don't seem so bad and you can cope with things a little bit better but as the year goes on to get increasingly tired problems accumulate their get to be those times when you seem hard-pressed and I always find it is I get to work vacation time in the summer.

I'm so glad the vacation is coming because I got a chance to recoup once again that should be our experience to some extent really trying to work with other people bosses next to where perplexed and perplexed in Christian work. I know I have one thing that perplexes me in? Is it so hard to get it done so difficult it's it's relatively easy to go out and raise money for hospital, do some kind of secular social work. I people are glad to give that all you have to do is get enough people working in organizer committees go out and do it. It's not all that difficult. And a lot of people volunteered to do it but I notice in Christian work. It's difficult. It's difficult to find people, people are not always willing to do what needs to be done it difficult to finance it best Christian works. I know struggle under the burden of perpetual difficulty in the area of finance. I'm puzzled by that. I think I should that be I can give myself reasons I don't know that they're the right reasons but I can say, well, God is teaching us to have faith, God knows perhaps that if things were easy, would misuse the money that maybe I don't know but I'm puzzled by psychologically so difficult.

We shouldn't have to press so hard to get things done. We spent so much trouble and so much time in those areas. Pressing that well things we we would like to do in the area of ministry we don't find myself perplexed bosses persecuted their I don't know. I think there kinds of persecution that some have often in families today where one becomes a Christian, and others are not generally is not much persecution. Some areas of the world is lots of persecution. Not much here, but some struck down. Well some more but not many being given over to death for Jesus sake.

Somewhere along the line you see, I think most of us fall out. Yet, we have to say that to some extent greater or lesser.

This is the experience of those who try to carry on a faithful ministry for Jesus Christ. We would have to say if they were here. We were conversing with Paul yes Paul not to the degree that you experience persecution, but in the same way we to have found these difficulties when I think Paul would say to us at that point and what he does say as he goes on in this chapter is this yes that's true, you you do this.

This is going to be your experience because of the way of the cross. Jesus said if they hated me. They'll hate you know what you're going to follow me.

It's going to mean taking up your cross to the end. This is why you just can't avoid that there is no getting around the fact that if you follow Jesus Christ. These things Paul about, says Paul, remember that is not the whole of the Christians experience, always true when you look outwardly to these things all kinds of troubles but he says you see, we don't merely look outward lead of the things that are happening. We look forward to God what God is doing and when we do that why we're renewed because we recognize that God is doing a glorious work not only through us in the lives of other people, but in us as well. Paul talks about it in terms of the resurrection. He talks about his own personal resurrection at the end. In verse 14 he says we aren't losing hard and we continue to speak, because verse 14 we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you in his presence. That's a glorious hope that transforms the circumstances and he says is not only a case of what God is going to do with the end in the final resurrection.

There is a sense in which God is working in us to produce a resurrection. Even now he calls it being inwardly renewed. Verse 16 outwardly we are wasting away.

He was thinking of his bodily problems slip persecutions that suffering endured. Though outwardly we are wasting away inwardly we are being renewed day by day, your eyes on what's happening internally.

Do you know that in all of the circumstances of life. All of the things you go through God is renewing you inwardly ease building within you know character is building a new life and new personality one that is existing not only for this world is going to exist for all eternity in his presence.

This is also important that you and I were just preachers of the day way the world thinks of it.

If our life began at birth and ended death. Why thinking about the future is just absurd. Let's eat drink and be merry because tomorrow we die.

That's the end of but if we're eternal creatures were going to live forever in one state or another, then what's happening to us now makes all the difference in the world.

CS Lewis said one occasion. That is what makes what's happening now so dreadfully important because he said either. We are going to be creatures of everlasting glory, better even than the Angels, reflecting the glory of God for all eternity, or we are going to be hideous creatures. The creatures of hell getting worse and worse for all eternity. Paul says you see, that gives us part. Go through the things we do go through because we know were being renewed. We know that one day going to be a resurrection and were going to be with God forever. Verse 16. Like first one is the theme of the chapter you notice the Paul repeats it. Second Corinthians 41 therefore, since through God's mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart. And then verse 16 as he wraps it up. Therefore we do not lose heart.

I think somebody may be saying well it's all very good.

That was good for the apostle Paul, but I must admit that there are times I do lose heart. I'm certainly perplexed. I'm certainly struck down it might be true that I'm not in despair and I'm not destroyed, but I'm not down the knots knocked out but nevertheless I am not down, and it's hard when I'm lying there in the campus not to be discouraged.

Paul has one last lot which I think in some ways is the most glorious of all. Verse 18 Paul, as it were in a sincere, gives his secret how we get through it all because he says so is because of all these things, especially because of what God is doing in renewing us day by day. So he says we fix our eyes not on what is seen but on what is unseen what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. The King James version of that point said we look not on that which is seen but on that which is unseen. I'm glad for this translation because the word stands. There is much closer to what this particular English translation conveys you on the Greek language all kinds of words for looking that account in John's Gospel when John and Peter go to the two or three of them and they're all very significant one is black. All it simply means the look. It's like glance of the eye that German has the word click. That's exactly what it means it just glance and then there's the words that are at all, which means to theorize about something to look in the sense of trying to figure it out.

And then there's a lot of which means look with understanding the revelation that delete finally understand what is going on either of those words.

Not one of them is used here Paul uses here is a word's copying and it means to look or to fix one's eyes upon but with the special sense of doing it in the sense of pure fixation as if you were so concerned about that particular thing you're looking at that. You don't want to get out of your sight. It's the word. Interestingly enough, in which we get our word bishop because stoploss becomes the word for Bishop Bishop is oneness. We know from Peter's teaching who has the oversight of souls has his eyes upon the flock and is concerned about them because he doesn't want one of them to stray and get lost. That's the idea, Paul says you see the way we get through struggles of this world is because we fix our eyes not on the things that are seen which pass away, and which are threatening but on that which is unseen is not interesting we fix our eyes on what we can see that's what Paul is saying about your CV understand these things spiritually. You know what he's talking about a means that's what we're concerned about. You see how the Holy Spirit moves to regenerate a person you can see that Jesus said you Like the wind. You can see where it comes from or whether it goes but you know it has affects Paul says that's what I fix my eyes upon you see how an individual man or an individual woman is being transformed daily made increasingly into the image of Jesus Christ. You can see that you can't even know what's going on inside except the extent that they tell you Paul says we fix our eyes upon that because we have our eyes upon those things we don't lose heart. I think of the great picture that John Bunyan creates a Christian on the way the celestial city where he has to walk down the path respect both sides by angry animals, ferocious beast chain either side up ahead as the guardian of the gate and the Guardian of the gate holds up the torch and says walk toward fixing his eyes upon the torch. He walks straight down the path. Even though the animals were clawing at the air to the right hand and the left all world bills with ferocious men and women who would care the servants of Jesus Christ.

Apart Jesus holds the light of the gospel before us, and he says fix your eyes on that live for that you will not regret it will say, what fools they were to throw away the kind of fame they could've had the kind of income they might've obtained they don't understand.

We fix our eyes on what's eternal because we are creatures of eternity by the grace of God. That's what we want. That's the greatest thing in all the world. Let us pray father blessed screws to our hearts, we confess it is hard for us to live them. We can talk about the beginning of and get excited about the hard to live them day by day. The problems come.

Father, we need to live them because that is the way in which we amount for something in this world and please you and that's what we wanted you and listening to the Bible study hour with the Bible teaching of Dr. James Boyce, a 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. For more information on the alliance including a free introductory package for first-time callers or to make a contribution. Please call toll-free 1-800-488-1888.

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