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Crown of Thorns

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice
The Truth Network Radio
August 31, 2021 8:00 am

Crown of Thorns

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice

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August 31, 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 finance 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. I suppose that here and there from time to time their people whole like to defend themselves when there under attack. Some people are often under attack.

Probably because they deserve it and they get used to that and I like for all, but generally speaking soft offenses very unpleasant thing and it certainly is for Christians Bible tells us, vengeance is mine, I will repay, saith the Lord, and certainly hits you in the spirit of that principle that Christians even when they are most severely attack hold back and allow God in his own way to defend them. Sometimes that comes through friends know the situation well expounded more properly sometimes it by circumstances.

Sometimes it's why supernatural work of God in the heart of the one is criticizing. But nevertheless, when self-defense is necessary as it sometimes visits a distasteful thing about what the apostle Paul is doing in the verses that we come to the mind.

In our study of second Corinthians were in the 11th chapter verse 16. It's a section in which four the first time in a way in this letter he defends himself against the criticisms that had been made and yet it's obviously distasteful, and it's obviously something to which, in a reluctant way he's been leading up ever since the beginning of the letter returned back to the very beginning of the second letter to the Corinthians, you find early years chapter 1 on about verses 16 and 17 that he's obviously answering the kind of personal attack that had been made against him by his enemies at Corinth.

He had planned to visit them and had been detoured from doing it and they had no doubt said well you know what you expect of that scoundrel Paul he says one thing he does something else. He never means what he says you can't trust his word says yes what he means now know what he means yes and Paul is answering that he says when I planned this that I do it lightly or or do I make my plans in a worldly manner so that in the same breath I say yes yes or no, no, he goes on along that vein a little bit and yet we we sense back doesn't like to plunge into this kind of argument in the personal tit-for-tat way yetis not really answered the criticisms of the third chapter he comes back to it says are we beginning to commend ourselves again or do we need like some people the means those apostles false apostles and Corinth letters of recommendation to you from you. He goes out of there again you see a little bit later on the same chapter and so on. Because it is a great way in chapter 6 here for the first time he begins to talk about the nature of his ministry and how he's tried very hard not to put stumbling blocks in anyone's way.

In his ministry, but rather he says we commend ourselves in endurance troubles and hardships and distresses yetis not yet been specific. You say he's holding back find the same thing in chapter 7 we have wronged no one, we have corrupted no one, we have exploited no one point saying that unless there were people who were saying to him that that's precisely what he had done yet as we get here. Toward the end of this letter, we sense that what Paul has known that he has had to do all along. Finally comes to the point and he says now for the first time I am going to post about these things in order that I might defend myself against the criticisms that have been made against me. I we might say at that point well, Paul. Even then, why should you be concerned with these things. After all, things are said against us, we let them slide by. Why shouldn't you do the same. Paul would reply. I'm sure that there are many times in his ministry.

When he did precisely that this situation at Corinth was about different character.

If Paul could have if he had what he really desired. He would have gladly let all of that slide by. But he couldn't do it in this particular case because of two things. First of all, he was concerned for the Corinthians that wasn't just a matter of something being said against him by somebody in some remote place where what they were saying wouldn't do damage. This is being said by false apostles who had infiltrated the church at Corinth and who were taking the Corinthian believers into slavery to their false gospel. We know that because of the way Paul speaks in verses 913 and 20. He said you put up with pools and back to put up with anyone who enslaves you or exploits you or takes advantage of you or pushes himself forward or slap you in the face.

We don't know precisely what is referring to in each of those cases. But when he speaks of slavery. Generally what Paul has in mind is being brought in bondage to the law the sense that you have to do certain things in order to merit salvation. It's all right to have faith in Christ. But you have to keep the law of Moses to such things. Paul thought that battle in his letter to the Galatians and perhaps this is the sort of thing that was going on there anyway Paul Saunders great danger. The kind of thing that would destroy the church so he has to speak out. See order to encounter that. That's the first thing but not only was it a matter of his concern for the Christians at Corinth that caused him to write this way, distasteful to himself as it may have been. He was also concern for the purity and the defense of the gospel. The problem you say was these enemies were not just. Obviously secular enemies when they were enemies that had come to Corinth in the guise of religion pretending to be true apostles, when in fact they were false apostles and therefore because they were false apostles preaching a false gospel which if it should be established in the church would destroy that great gospel of salvation through grace which comes to us in Jesus Christ. Paul here is doing. You see, what an apostle must Paul is defending his apostleship because his apostleship is connected with the gospel. He's a true apostle gospel he preaches is a true gospel if those others are true apostles in the gospel.

They preach is a true gospel and it's most important that that matter, be decided at the same sort of thing that has to be decided today, though not in terms of the apostleship, but rather in terms of the apostolic message. We have many gospels today all kinds of churches all kinds of denominations all kinds of hospitals preached in those kinds of churches and when you hear discordant sounds you have to ask yourself whether you're really hearing the true voice of Christ.

True exposition of the word by one who was faithful to the word makes it his business to teach the word and is correctable by the word or whether it's a gospel which, however, attractive may appear, and however enticing it may be, is nevertheless not a true one because it is not based upon Scripture and is not breached by one was faithful to it. See what matters in spiritual things is not the eloquence of the preacher, not the qualifications of the spokesman.

But whether it's an authentic message based upon a true understanding of this word. Every Christian has to face that in one way or another. In a strict selection so as I say distasteful as this may be Paul nevertheless finds it necessary to defend his apostleship and this is what he does in these verses. Now he boasts about he recognizes that that sort of thing is foolish even talks about himself. As a result of his mind's eye must be crazy to be talking like this but nevertheless he doesn't because it's required and he gives us here listing of the things which she endured for the sake of the spreading of the gospel, which, although he didn't want to talk about it are actually Paul's great crown of glory. Now the list is not exhaustive. We take this list we compare it with what we know about the apostle Paul in acts we find things in Oxnard mentioned here. Same guy we find things here that are not mentioned in our exit makes us realize that Paul went through all sorts of experiences what we have here is not careful chronicling of air every single thing that happened in his life.

As a result of his stand for Christ, the kind persecutions dangers the game, but rather it's a it's a free-flowing kind of statement of the sort of things that Paul remembers from his many years of missionary activity something for us perhaps to divide them into categories, I see a number of them. He speaks first of his ancestry.

These false apostles that had come to Corinth and boasted that they were Jews. True Israelites, that is, members of the covenant people and children of Abraham. Paul says well today. Most of that so can I I too am Hebrew of the Hebrews is the wasn't a proselyte became a Jew later in life he wasn't half Jew that is with Gentile father and a Jewish mother was child Hebrew parents to set up your blood you are they Israelites Almighty says I'm a member of the covenant people of God.

I was raised in the knowledge of the traditions of my fathers are they Abraham's descendents over my so when he begins to see talk of his apostleship.

P mentions his ancestry. First of all secondly mentions this persecutions begins.

I suppose with verse 23 lay servants of Christ well I am even more than they are because he says I work much harder been imprisoned more frequently been flogged more severely and been exposed to death again and again five times. He says I received from the Jews the 40 lashes -13 times I was beaten with rods and once I was stoned and three times I was shipwrecked. I spent a night in the day in the open say that's quite a list persecutions. When you begin to think about it. When Paul speaks about the 40 lashes minus one that was a Jewish punishment law required that a person not receive more than 40 stripes Jews with their very careful attention to the details of the law always gave 39. That is one short of the prescribed number in case by some accident. There was a miscount and trying to give the 40 lashes they would actually give 41 punishments. They were actually scrupulous.

This matter of being beaten with rods was a Roman punishments. Paul is saying you say I have been persecuted by Jews. I have been persecuted by Romans once I was stoned. That was the normal way of killing a person we have that incident in the book of acts where they actually dragged him outside the city, thinking he was dead. God ministered to and perhaps in a supernatural way because it said he rose up, went on his way again almost killed on that occasion and then he talks about his shipwrecked we don't know what they were. We know one at least in acts night and a day in the open sea.

Don't know when that was what Paul says I endured that for the sake of carrying the gospel to the Gentile world that's something oppressive you know, we know that people would sometimes die under the administration of 40 lashes. Yet here Paul had received those things Gammons and again. Verse 26 he talks about his dangers another category of things that he endured another seal on his apostleship. He says he's been in danger from rivers that is trying to cross that was not an easy thing in a day or not bridges everywhere in danger from bandits Roman world was full of them. It was one of the accomplishments of the Roman legions that they reduce them significantly in danger from my own countrymen who tried to kill him. He mentioned some of the instances of that in the section before this, in danger from the Gentiles in danger in the city is something we understand in danger in the country people in the country are not always is aware of that Paul was in danger there to endanger it, say, in danger from false brothers danger danger everywhere. Everywhere he looked he was in danger, which meant that as he labored for Christ. He was constantly as he says on the move never knowing when the next blow Paul when the next arrest would occur support category here in which he talks about his labors.

Paul says I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep. I have known hunger and thirst, and often gone without food. I been cold, naked all those things you say in the carrying out of his ministry Lord when he first called them and gave them instructions and Damascus shortly after his conversion said I will show him he was speaking of the man who had been sent to anoint his eyes that he might see reports that I will show him how many things he must suffer for my sake can hear some of those things. Verse 28 he had. In addition, all of this that is always physical pressures. What we would call mental pressure or psychological pressures. He said beside everything else.

I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches and perhaps at that point buddy was saying might have begun to get through the brothers and sisters Corinth because they were among those concerns which were causing him mental language here was a church being misled by false teachers who had no protections whatsoever being enslaved to a false gospel turning their back on Paula would love them and had labored among them, not even taking money from their hands in order that he might preach the gospel as a low cost.

Here was a great concern by concert.

He said for all the churches including you people let Corinth and many many others beside then I think also know it seems somewhat of a postscript to this list when he talks about his deliverance from Damascus when they let him down over the wall in a basket. The is reminding the Corinthians that the way the Lord delivered them is also God seal on his apostleship see he mentions just this one deliverance but it comes at the end and it's hard to read that without thinking back over all of the other things. It is mentioned he was beaten with rods, but he was delivered he did not die. He was beaten with lashes, but he was delivered from the lashes. He did not.he was stoned but he did not die shipwrecked but he did not die. God preserve them and all of those things because God said to him that he was to be the apostle to the Gentiles, and it was necessary in that role that he take the gospel throughout the Gentile world. What I want to say and comment on that is that these things that Paul mentions. Although they were an embarrassment to Paul to mention the work actually is crown for I say that going to go back to it a moment before I say that I want you to notice my contrast to the text by what's left out. By contrast, the kind of things that the apostle Paul does not mention anything of the list. That way, let me illustrate what I want to say as follows. This last week I was in Boston for my 25th reunion at Harvard University. All my classmates were back and on Thursday I attended the Harvard commencement ceremonies. They always give honorary degrees at the commencement ceremonies and they did also.

In this occasionally gave 10 of them and the people they gave them to were these among others, CBS president emeritus Frank Stanton Brister spend all that was Bishop of Stockholm pharmacologists Sir James black of England, psychologist, BF Skinner, Federal Reserve Board chairman Paul Walker and others as I was thinking about this list that the apostle Paul provides. So I thought.

By contrast of this list of distinguished man and one woman that the University of Harvard has provided for us on this occasion I thought of the way Harvard boasts about those to whom it's about to give an honorary degree Frank Stanton for broadcast journalism. He stoutly advocates freedom and responsibility through public swiftly and thoroughly informed. He sees the highest potential of democracy, Brister spend all inspired preacher interpreter of the Christian word is brought a lively wit and a strong social conscience to communities of faith throughout the world. Sir James black. His hard-won discoveries and drug therapy have revolutionized the practice of modern medicine and improve the lives of millions BF Skinner loyal colleague warm and stimulating teacher dauntless experimentalists to apply as a keen scientific mind of the mysteries of human behavior.

Paul Volcker distinguished public servant, steadfast offender of our currency example are of reason applied to the ever challenging goal of economic stability, and so on. Well, I'm sure those men thoroughly deserved their degree and I began to think along those lines of how it Harvard. Harvard were awarding a degree to the apostle Paul, which I doubt they would do. Even after these many years. If if they did, how they would go about you go about your going to write up the apostle Paul's biography and tell the things for which you should be praised, distinguished Jewish rabbi educated under Gamaliel Harvard of his day pioneer missionary breaker of new turf, founder of the Christian churches in Asia man who blazoned the pathway to the West. Eventually planting the gospel in Rome and regions beyond. Last, by the grace of God receiving markers welcome into heaven, so I would write I would you write it about Christian workers today. You know, the kind you like to have on the platform when you're planning a conference for four or five or 10,000 people offer of the best-selling book, how to have a Christian view of sex and enjoy it to, founder of the church, which in 10 years, grew from 50 members to 10,000 you know how you do it very interesting that that's not what Paul says see the point I'm making up, always boasting of his apostleship. Paul could've said quite rightly the charges I have found it, people will come to Christ.

My ministry look at all the difficulties I went through the plant. The pattern of Christ in foreign soil.

And yet he says look I just worked harder.

I was in prison more frequently. I was flogged more severely. I was exposed to that again. And again I was beaten I was misused I was stoned. I was shipwrecked all things that we would think of negatively. And you things he endured for the sake of the glory of proclaiming Jesus Christ is Lord. So I say as I said I would do in closing that the glory of this is that it is Paul's crown is the Lord Jesus Christ himself counts ponders and awards is crown when I think of that I can help but contrast this list with a list. Paul gave in Philippians concerning the kind of things that he was trying to accumulate in his life as honors before he met Christ like. They Artie says there were things that I inherited and he refers to some of the same things not persecutions, but the fact that he was a Jew and all of that and then there were the things he said that iron for myself.

I was a Pharisee didn't have to be that but it was a strict rigorous act of the Jews and I joined I was a zealous Pharisee said.

I went around persecuting Christians.

I observed the law, doing everything I possibly could to keep the law of Moses.

As I understood it, you have all those things that Paul says before I met Christ. I boasted about an about what you find him, saying, look, having met Christ and having found what righteousness was. I counted all those former accomplishments which I was doing to absolutely nothing. In fact, I counted them is worse than nothing because they were keeping me from Christ. And so I wrote them all off. I counted them on the refuse is the word he uses for the sheer joy of knowing Jesus. But now notice having repudiated those things as accomplishments and having come to know Jesus Christ. He was so enraptured by the love of Christ that he endured every hardship suffered every persecution in order that he might make Jesus Christ known in the things he did not his own glory, but out of love for Christ after his conversion not only exceeded the things that were being done by the false apostles, but even exceeded his own former accomplishments before he met Jesus. So I put it to you in this way, what are you doing are you in during for the sake of Jesus Christ, you and I can invert and vent persecutions and we live in an age where those things that happen a whole lot. We camped make ourselves to be flogged stone shipwrecked.

So on those Solomon to go places have endured very similar things.

There's parts of this we can do. Paul talks about his labor and his toil and his work is all things we can do if you try to do that in order to earn heaven. Jesus Christ will write is anathema over all your efforts but if Anna love for Christ. You labor and work toil and one day in heaven. There's going to be a great graduation ceremony. Jesus is hand out the honorary degrees and is going to say well done, well done good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of your Lord and we will join the apostle Paul and those others who have labored in the gospel at great personal cost before us is prayer father we read a list like this. We can't be proud we are humbled by it we see with this first grade pioneer missionary endured and we look at our lives and we feel rightly that in certain ways.

We have just been toying with Christianity our father, where we can. We want to labor where we can. We want to work where necessary. We want to endure persecutions and hardships, not because it proves how good we are, but because we love Jesus and we want others to know into our father, give us grace to do that and if it's happens that in glory we receive that great crowd in which Jesus says see will award to all who love him and look for his appearing. We look forward to the day when we make casts those crowns at the feet of Jesus whom we love and for whom we have labored a man you are listening to 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.

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