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August 19, 2021 8:00 am
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 studying second Corinthians together.
As you know on Sunday evenings and we have come to light in our study of this book to the six chapter and verse 3 Were Way.
Have a remarkable passage from the hand of the apostle Paul describing the nature of his ministry and the way in which you and all kinds of difficulties and hardships conducted himself so as to commend the gospel to his hearers start appraise this passage sufficiently by reflect on it and try to think of anything to which it can be compared to the closest thing that comes to my mind is that passage of Rudyard Kipling's, which begins if you can keep your head when all about you are losing your bears and blaming it on you and which goes on to talk about all of the bad things we experience including having a work of our life destroyed in an instant the menace Kipling says stoop down and build it up again with worn-out tools. Kipling goes on. That way, perhaps for a dozen of those statements that he gets to the end and concludes that if you can do that well then he says you are a man, my son, that's really a great passage of literature, but it pales by comparison with this because there Kipling is talking about what it is to be a man, humanly speaking, and here the apostle Paul is talking about what it means to be a spiritual man, God's man, and above all to do that in the Christian ministry.
I was talking chiefly about the ministry that is the ministry that he had as an apostle, and when he uses the word we thinking also of the other apostles. If I were preaching to a group of ministers I would take this text, I would apply it rightly and emphatically to every single one of them because this is our calling as ministers yet at the same time. I'm sure you understand being in Scripture as it is. It is like all scripture profitable for us.
However we may be in, although it applies in the first instance to those who are called by God to a specific ordained ministry is nevertheless also applies in a secondary sense to all Christians for all are called upon the minister were to be witnesses of this world. Jesus did not merely send out his disciples to be witnesses in the world, but he sent the church. That's the nature of the great commission and where we go with that message.
We experience the kind of things. The apostle Paul experience, not all of the of course, is a pattern and these things are collected in him, as it were. As an example, he himself uses that busy speaks of his own suffering. He said got a set us forth to be examples of suffering everybody else.
It was collected in him yet as we go through this it's impossible. I think if we really are serious about witnessing to God's grace in Jesus Christ not to recognize that many of these things have entered into our own experience as well. So the question we want to ask ourselves as we study these terms is whether we are conducting ourselves in such experiences in a way that actually commends the gospel or whether we are conducting ourselves in such a way that we bring discredit upon.
I think the best commentary that I have found in the book of second Corinthians is the one by Philip use relatively recent commentary and he concludes his introduction of this section with these words. This movingly beautiful him like passage flows from the deep part of the apostles knowledge and experience.
It's almost lyrical intensity at structural balance in its genuine spontaneity have called forth the response of admiration and gratitude in all generations displays without any trace of artificiality all the ardor and devotion and sincerity of his regenerated nature and it challenges every serious reader to re-examine as before God's own relationship to the crucified and risen and ascended Lord, and if, as we study it. It has that results in our lives in our time together will be profitable now. It has two parts. It has a negative part with which it begins and it has a positive part, by which it continues and the negative party shorter, Paul says in the negative part verse three we put no stumbling block in anyone's path, so that our ministry will not be discredited. Now we know how that can be I don't know precisely what Paul had in mind as he wrote that, but I think it's quite possible Paul knowing and undoubtedly having meditated on the words of our Lord that he was thinking about occasion when our Lord himself spoke about causing someone to stumble know what our Lord said. He said if you cause one of the least of these stumble he was speaking. Even the children. He said if that's the case, well it were at or if a millstone were hung around your neck and you were cast into the sea and drowned as a powerful word, so I suppose I think I don't know because all we have here is the word stumbling to go on but I think when Paul uses that he may well been thinking of that recognizing that in the ministry. Especially, it is a very very serious thing to mislead another person, whether by teaching or by conduct. Unfortunately, that's all about us.
We take various ministries that are popular in the world today, the kind that brought so many hosts of followers after them.
I think we would have to say we would not want to say we would say reluctantly but as we evaluate the messages that we hear we would have to say in large portions of America. Many messages go out in America through the printed medium and over television over radio or misleading but always intentionally sometime.
It's just a case of using the world's theology to gain a crowd.
Other times, unfortunately, it is intentional and it is a gospel that is not the gospel of Jesus Christ. Prosperity gospel, for example gospel of self-help kind of teaching that says well you have to do your own thing and prosper in Your Own Way, God's not going to help you as a matter-of-fact way to live is to think that your God, yourself, there are movements like that say that in so many words, we look at that and we say, well that is very very serious thing that does exactly what Paul said he didn't want his ministry to do ministry like that causes people to stumble and if it's true that it is dangerous to cause a person to stumble in this life, so that they are misled and entered upon the path of sin which bring suffering.
It is certainly infinitely more serious breach gospel that causes people to stumble for the life to come in this life, you lose your life but in life to come. You lose your soul, Paul said when we pretend to speak for God. We have got to be very careful but it's God's message that were speaking.
See that's why if I could say just a word to those who are seminarians or who are thinking about the Christian ministry, you must be sure that you are called in the ministry by God. Although I think that there such a thing as particulars of calling so that God, in a special way will call Juan in a secular vocation to be a doctor and another in the secular vocation to be a law urine mother would do something else. Businessman, whatever it may be, but there's a sense in which you can choose between those things and it's not all that crucial to say I think ministries in a separate category because they are speaking about eternal things and what is at stake or the lives the eternal lives of men and women you dare to speak for God, you better be sure that it's God who is called you to speak as if God calls you into the ministry that you can speak because you can believe that. If you're faithful to him and you try to search the Scriptures and you really pray for help and God will undergird the message and will preserve you from the kind of error that could lead people astray but you just say well I think ministries nice vocation.
I think I'd like to do that or even if I can take it down just a notch and if you say well I think I'd like to be a Sunday school teacher. I'd like to teach one of those classes and you're not sure that God is really leading you to do it then you don't have the guarantee that God is going to be with you and guide what you say but be sure that before you do.
Paul was short of it, and when he speaks about his ministry he begins as I said with this negative report, the bulk of this paragraph.
However, deals with the positive. Namely, how we conducted himself in situations in which his ministry brought him I was a hard one to deal with. He begins in verse four saying, rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way and you notice in your Bibles. At least in the new international Bible verse: and then he begins a list of these things. There are 37 of last 7/14 I should say or impairs you might be able to treat those together known, yet regarded as unknown, dying, and yet we live on, beaten, and yet not killed but even if you take those prayers together. The only reduce the number to 30 and that is a just a bit much for serving. I'm in the habit of preaching three-pointers. Charles Haddon Spurgeon, who was at least 25% better than I am, was in the habit of preaching for pointers and sometimes five or more but 30 points is a bit much. I think however that it's possible to get a handle on this by categorizing these things because when you begin to look at them. It's quite obvious that some of them go together and they can be grouped in different ways. Paul begins with a number of them, which speak about him commending himself in the work itself. The key term there is the term endurance and after that you find mine different situations that are in groups of three. He's going to endure in that ministry number one in troubles hardship and distresses number two in beatings, imprisonments and riots and number three in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger. So that's the first thing he talks about how he commended himself in the work itself, and secondly he talks about how he commended himself in his character, which is seen as he was engaged in the work here. You have not quite so need to division but nevertheless it's evident how these things go together are six impurity, understanding, patience and kindness all virtues in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love and truthful speech and in the power of God with weapons of righteousness in the right hand on the left and so does go together when you have 1/3 section in which he is talking about the way in which it was received when he went in that character to carry out the ministry that has two parts.
He says through glory and dishonor through bad reporting good report, and those go together and then at the very end. You have a section that deals is I would say with the conflict between what was seen and what people thought of him and the contrast things were not seen, but which were the things really matter. So he says they are genuine, yet regarded as imposters known, yet regarded as unknown dying, yet we live on, beaten, and yet not killed, sorrowful, yet always rejoicing poor at making many rich, having nothing, and yet possessing everything. So I suggest we look at it and turns of those four categories is first when the work itself and the key term there as I said a moment ago is the term endurance. The reason he uses that word endurance is that the work is hard Christian workers hard when one sets out to faithfully teach the word of God which is the minister's chief responsibility that is not done by being lazy and I can speak to my brethren in the same profession. One of the great sins of the ministry is laziness or other sensitive guidance sends that the congregation often knows about but among those other sins there is the great sin of laziness because it is just hard work sit down and study the word of God apply one's mind in time and understanding and discipline one's own study in such a way that by the grace of God, you begin to understand and appreciate this great revelation from God and learn to relate it in a relevant way. To the people that are the minister's responsibility. Having said that, we say that there are many ministries that are particularly difficult sometimes. Of course, things go relatively well.
There are periods of great blessing when churches thrive. There are periods when whole denominations live or the movement of God in a particular nation thrives and we say well that's the type of revival that's the time of reformation and that's what most times are difficult to, but those are difficult times in the midst of joy as we know there are people I would think many and undoubtedly the great saints in God's Army who are called to go to the difficult places with the gospel and bear witness there in the midst of the very kind of difficulties.
The apostle Paul talks about here talks about troubles, hardship distresses. Those are general terms, it just means it's not always easy or financial problems are problems of travel difficulties of environment missionaries experience those things are things that come sometimes because of a reaction negative reaction to the gospel that's briefly talks about those beatings and imprisonments and riots.
The apostle Paul certainly knew about that firsthand beatings. He says later on in the same letter he had received 39 stripes at least five times in his life.
That's a serious thing you know people sometimes would die under that kind of a beating and yet he said that happened to him five times talks about imprisonments.
We don't know how many imprisonments he happens, but there were several was imprisoned in Philippi, he was imprisoned at Caesarea. He was imprisoned in Jerusalem, and later on he was imprisoned in Rome and there may have been more he talks about riots. We know at least nine riots were caused by the apostle Paul's preaching virtually everywhere he went he started up that kind of opposition.
Finally he got a reputation for it. He came in the one community and they said, look, here come these men would been stirring up all the world, turning upside down. Now they finally come to our community to and they started right through about.
That's the kind of experience we apostle Paul had many talks specifically about hard work, sleepless nights, and even yes hunger because he didn't always have enough to how did Paul commend himself in that kind of circumstance.
Well, I suppose it would've been possible for him to have done it, but have complained along the way. It was said, well, this is what the Lord's given me to go but it certainly is hard, and I certainly do feel miserable in the work.
Paul, having been beaten for the fifth time with 39 stripes and said I certainly do feel miserable. None of us could of said Paul not bearing a very good witness. All we could have done a set down beside it and sympathize with the kind of things he was going through. And yet Paul didn't do that one. An example of the way in which Paul conducted himself. He turned to the 16th chapter of acts where we have ball for the first time crossing over into Europe and preaching at Philippi where as we read a riot ensued. Paul and his companion Silas were arrested and then it says in the text of they were severely beaten by just beaten severely beaten and they were taken in the prison and their feet were placed in stocks in the jailer was put over them.
The jailer was to keep an eye on them because of course if they got away. The jailer's life itself.
Before that, was Roman law and what you find Paul and Silas doing what you find them singing and praising God that God, the worthy to suffer for his name and outside. On the other side of the wall for the gate you had the jailer listening to all of this is when God intervened, as he did that night to set them free.
If I that man falling on his knees before them and saying, Sirs, what must I do to be saved. When was the last time someone fell down before you said sir or madam, what must I do to be saved. Well, not very often. Maybe it's because we really haven't endured what the apostle Paul endured and maybe because when we do endure bad things we don't conduct ourselves as he did. The second category of things here has to do with Paul's character. The ball is certainly exemplary and is characterless for things right off the bat, purity, understanding patient's kindness. These are things that flow from the Holy Spirit of the fruit of the Holy Spirit. Just a few pages further on in our Bibles. The fifth chapter of Galatians.
You'll find them talking about the fruit of the spirit and the number of those things, patience and kindness occur. There fruit of the spirit. He says his love, joy, peace, patient's kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
This is the kind of man Paul was disciple I thought he was an aggressive evangelist. Yes, he was a good and aggressive evangelist you say well I read about and I think that he must've been a bit feisty. And yes, I think he wants to say, at times, maybe he was even hard to get along with. Yes, I think they night. Maybe that was true as well. And yet here was a man who, at the same time was characterized by these rates. Fruits of the spirit, love, joy, peace, and so on. Then he refers to them here is probably because of his thinking of them being the fruit of the spirit that he mentions in the next place as he does the Holy Spirit. Commentators have looked at that and said you know that's a bit strange to put that there is talking about these characteristics of his life, understanding patient's kindness is going to go on to talk about sincere love. How does the Holy Spirit get into that doesn't quite fit the other categories of that's true, but I think the explanation of it is that, as Paul began to think of those things list them here doing so not in the formal, structured way as they occurred to him as he was writing freedom of his composition, he realized those things he was talking about are not the kind of things that come out of a man or woman naturally were not naturally patient or kind or pure Holy Spirit does that in people and so he mentions the Holy Spirit and perhaps because he still thinking of the fruits of the spirit. He says yes and sincere love which in Galatians is the characteristic with which he begins his list says yes send truthful speech also uses their the word low-cost, which means an utterance says our utterances are truthful. Yes he says also in the power of God, and he says our lives are characterized by righteousness when he talked about the power of God.
He saying the same sort of thing which he said it much greater length in the first letter you know in the second chapter. The opening verses of that letter is talking about the time when he was with the Corinthians. At first, and is reminding them of that and the saying, you know, when we came to you the first time we came in fear and trembling, not does the Greek Warners would've caught man of polish and eloquence and sophistication. He said we just came like poor itinerant evangelists and moreover we were afraid we tremble, even as we stood up before you speak, but he said look.
The words we spoke were God's words and got accompanied them with his power and you know what happened even though we spoke them to murderously God work through those words and he brought life out of death, and you that's what he says here he says we haven't come before you as orators. Rather, we, as man whose lives have been touched by God and give evidence of the presence of God and what we do and say and think of how we operate. We look at those things and we say is that characteristic of me. Some of those things. Perhaps the first portion we'd say we just haven't had the opportunity to experience troublesome distresses, beatings and imprisonments know that's true. Most of us have been spared that but how about the second things, purity, understanding, patient's kindness, love, truth and righteousness is not one of those things shouldn't be present in great abundance in every single Christian and certainly in ministers of God. When we look at that list we find there list by which we can evaluate our own conduct. The third category are these things that have to do with the way Paul was received.
There are four of them set into pairs, glory and dishonor, bad report and good report that were glorious or don't stop and initially that words meant to have a good opinion of someone best way to translate it in this particular phrase I think is to say, praise. On the one hand, which is the word glory and while we might say criticism is a translation of that word dishonor on the other praise and criticism.
He says he goes on to say, bad report and good report in the way I would distinguish between those two sets of things is that the one was the ball directly and the other was behind his back. Sometimes the ministers praised somebody says afterwards all that was a good sermon. Sometimes a minister is criticized and people say that was a terrible sermon. Paul says I know how to conduct myself in both when people praise present. I don't get carried away because the glory is God's.
And when people criticize or receive it. I try to understand what is true, the criticism necessary make corrections and furthermore he says just as that is true in words spoken to my face. So it is true in word spoken on my back because are always people won't say anything to you to your face but you know if you go around to hear things are said and he said I hear people are saying bad things about me over hear people saying good things about me and I don't say well, those are the people in a right of the people that are wrong. He said no. I just conduct myself above reproach in both circumstances blessing. He talks about is as I've said, the things that are seen versus what was.
Not saying and maybe in some ways this is a most interesting list of all you know, if you take all the negatives here and put them together. You really have a way in which Paul must've appeared those in the Gentile communities to which he came to minister look at it imposter unknown dying beaten sorrowful poor, having nothing possible always like that you know the apostle Paul never wrote a how-to success book because not one of those things is the kind of things.
The world tells you to do you know you want the world to pay attention. You've got to come across as someone who is genuine and you gotta come across as someone who is known that is who has a reputation you say. Well I been on the Johnny Carson show and everybody knows me.
You gotta come across not as someone who is dying what if someone was in the peak of health. Whether someone was beaten, but if someone was above all those things not to sorrowful but lifted up in spirit not as poor but as Rick shot is having nothing but rather as one who has everything. You gotta be a 10 on the scale of 1 to 10. If you're going to succeed in this world and people thought that way. In those days, and they thought that way when they saw Paul and they said to Paul, Paul, you are exactly the opposite. You are an absolute nobody. You have nothing you know nothing and your unknown ball in a certain sense you say says yes that was true of me and that is true because that's precisely the way in which I came in your community. I didn't come with letters of recommendation. I didn't comment all of the external polish. I certainly did not come with wealth.
But he says you know if you can see beneath the surface, or as I say, if you can see the things that are unseen will find in every one of those categories. The opposite was really the truth. People say and undoubtedly his critics there and Karen said all Paul is an imposter reason. Not even a true apostle Paul says God knows and I know that I'm genuine because the Lord Jesus Christ appeared to me on the road to Damascus and he called me and he gave me this mission.
They would say Paul your unknown and Paul would say yes that's true in the world's eyes that is the case, I certainly am unknown buddies that I'm known to God as God is called me and furthermore I'm known to those who are God's children dying, yes he says bearing about in my body the marks of the Lord, that is suffering.
His body was wearing out in his service, yet he says spiritually. You see in every great way I continue to live on beaten guest beaten of course many many times but not killed because God is preserved may sorrowful.
Yes, I come in the communities and I don't enter Randall all the exuberant laughter games in riotous times of the Greek contemporary world. I see Michael stick in the mud where they're concerned, sorrowful, yet sorrowing person, but he says spiritually, rejoicing when I see what God is doing poor. Certainly yet making many rich in spiritual things, having nothing.
Yes, yet in Christ possessing all things. I wonder if that's true, a loss or if it is not. Rather the case of my fear. It is that we have sold out for the world's way of doing things and we comment the things in the good reputation in the knowledge in the health at the expense of that which is spiritually worthwhile Paul gets to the end of that and he speaks of commending himself to the Corinthians that is to the believers there in Corinth as a commendation to the believers, but you understand I'm sure that it is a commendation done believers to because what Paul is saying by the way he lifts and in this passage by the way he writes is quite simply this. This world is not all there is. Your an unsaved person. You look at this world and you say I just gotta get everything I can out of this world because that's what matters.
And Paul is saying no in the final sense, that is not what matters.
God may bless you abundantly in this world. Paul is not saying that everybody else should be as poor as he is, but he say what matters are the things that are eternal say I am living testimony to that end by being living testimony to that. I am a testimony to the gospel. I want to show that it is possible for a man to lose everything in order that he might have Jesus Christ because he is Jesus Christ have an old that's the way you commend the gospel to the world. That is why the church has prospered in times of suffering wider so often failed prospered in times of material prosperity God gives grace to live like Paul in the lease. Some of these areas may many people find Christ through our testimony of the spray father we read a passage like this and if we really try to examine our own lives. In the context of what we find ourselves concluding how can we do otherwise we are weak, poor specimens of what we could be her father. We do take joy in the fact that you do use the week as Paul himself was in the poor as Paul himself was and that through such week.
Inefficient instruments you bring glory to yourself as men and women are drawn to Christ. Her mother do that through us. We want to be used by you, but because of who we are, but because these spiritual things are what really matter matter for this life and they certainly matter for eternity.
Father bless us.
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