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882. The Fragrance of the Knowledge of Christ

The Daily Platform / Bob Jones University
The Truth Network Radio
December 15, 2020 7:00 pm

882. The Fragrance of the Knowledge of Christ

The Daily Platform / Bob Jones University

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December 15, 2020 7:00 pm

BJU Seminary professor Dr. Kevin Oberlin continues a series about II Corinthians titled “The Aroma of Christ – Ministry According to II Corinthians.”

The post 882. The Fragrance of the Knowledge of Christ appeared first on THE DAILY PLATFORM.

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Welcome to The Daily Platform from Bob Jones University in Greenville South Carolina today would be getting a new study series from second Corinthians preached by BW seminary professors listlessness, Dr. Layton Talbert walks us through an introduction to second Corinthians were willing. Over the course of the next two semesters were to be working through a significant stretch of this letter to 14 to 713 but what holds this section of the letter together.

What makes it a unit and what makes it unit significant for for seminarians with Paul's personal testimonial about the nature of an apostolic new covenant ministry and my task in this message is basically to set the stage for the series I want to do that in three basic ways the historical context conduct the background of second Corinthians, the literary context. How this letter is constructed how it's put together, how it progresses in the theological context basically rented a very brief biblical theology, not the whole book, but especially of the section that is our concern so let's start with the historical context.

Paul's relationship with Corinth was complicated.

More so, it seems that with any other church that we know about from the New Testament, there was a very mixed reception to his ministry. There were interloper and preachers from outside that would come in in his absence and undermine his authority and undermine his ministry. Apparently there was perhaps at least one additional brief and very difficult, painful visit. That is not recorded by accidental. There were multiple letters clearly more than two and those letters are characterized by very warm encouragement and yet also embarrassingly necessary self-defense on Paul's part, and incredulous questions that he poses and very pointy rebukes and sometimes very blunt threats. So I want to do in this section here basically is try to scratch Stitt sketch out the basic situation that leads to the writing of what we call second Corinthians, and I've chosen this map, mostly just because it's simple and clear and includes pretty much just what you need to know for the sole historical review, you got Ephesus know that is true as Macedonia, Acadia and Corinth right there that's all you need to know that all the line the rear. So valve about five years after his initial church plant in Corinth, Paul is in Ephesus. This is about A.D. 54 to 55 where he basically headquartered his ministry for about two years when a delegation from the church record shows up and they have news about the church, along with some questions and issues that they're trying to work through.

As a church. So Paul in response to that writes what we call first Corinthians, and sends it back probably with a delegation from Corinth. We know from first Corinthians chapter 5 that this is not his first letter to them. He references another letter there that he already wrote to them, so was written at least one other letter.

Paul's plan at this point then is just to remain in Ephesus Ephesus for a while longer and then travel up and foot up from Ephesus to Shiraz and through Macedonia and then down to Corinth mostly by foot, but apparently due to some other developments. Paul becomes very concerned about the situation in Corinth.

Some think that he actually made a quick personal trip right across the Corinth is not mentioned by Luken in the book of acts.

Some think that he wrote an additional was referred to as a severe letter that we also don't have any record of what we do know, however, is that he sent Timothy and Erastus on ahead of him to Corinth to try to prepare the way he mentions that in first Corinthians. So when Paul finally leaves Ephesus to go to Corinth, he had arranged a rendezvous at trial as with Titus on his way back from Corinth, but when he gets to the trial as there's no Titus and he gets very concerned but he proceeds on into Macedonia and then he finally meets up with Titus and Macedonia and he is so relieved at the mostly good news about the Corinthian church that he gets from Titus that he pens another letter right there on the spot in Macedonia gives it a Titus turns around and sends him right back to Corinth with that with with with second Corinthians, what we call second group was written up the road in great relief that he finally hears back from Titus and things seem to go be going pretty well so he writes a letter sends it off to Corinth to prepare for his coming visit. So in second Corinthians, Paul basically response to the very mixed news.

A Titus brought from Corinth and it's because of this complicated back story. He praises there a pennant response to to to what he had written.

He encourages them to prepare very generously for this upcoming collection that he wants to take the take back to the at the brethren in Jerusalem. He wants to come from the Gentiles. He warns a rogue faction of false apostles in this letter.

Second Corinthians that has infiltrated the Corinthian church and is been slandering him and undermining his authority in impugning his motives on the heels of this letter.

He arrives in Corinth and he stays there for three months and again it's because of all this complicated back story. The second Corinthians is widely recognized as the most difficult to understand.

Among Paul's letters as part of the ongoing history of the Corinthian church's stormy relationship with Paul her a divinely appointed apostle second Corinthians is anything but an abstract treatise written in a vacuum. Neither is it merely an expression of practical theology. It's a letter written on the fly by a greatly relieved Paul on route to an ecclesiastical powder keg which has only recently been diffused, but there still people sit waiting in the wings with matches in hand. So all of this has everything to do both with the context and the spirit of this letter.

What Paul writes and how he writes what he writes so what did Paul write about in this letter that brings me to the literary context. First Corinthians as you're probably well aware proceeds very logically and very systematically from one announced topic to another. Second Corinthians is not anything like that not only terms of content, but in terms of construction and how Paul moves from topic to topic and understanding how this unique letter is put together has everything to do with accurately interpreting and accurately applying any particular part of it.

The letter naturally self divides into three major sections, and as unspiritual and non-theological as it may sound those divisions actually revolve around Paul's imminent visit to Corinth. That's how it divide that's how it unfolds.

So the first seven chapters are basically the explanation of his delay, his personal conduct in his apostolic ministry are the focus 8 to 9 preparations for his arrival when he gets there. Specifically, the collecting for the saints in Jerusalem, and Nintendo 13 problems related to his coming visit and those have to do specifically with vindicating his apostolic authority.

So that's basically a flyover view what we want to do now is kind of zoom in on that first section of of the letter so the first seven chapters are the exultation of his delay. Personal conduct is apostolic ministry personal apostolic ministry in the first subsection of that is the introduction the blessings of God's comfort in affliction, which we just read in the text on the screen just help visually reinforce what we heard in the reading all the red is affliction suffering all the blue's comfort you see that stand right out. That's the focus of the of this introduction, the blessings of God's comfort infliction and our fellowship in that comfort.

The next major section of chapters 1 to 7.

It's 112 to 13 and that has to do with Paul's coming visit Paul's past letter in Paul's present journey and the first section of that 112 322 is Paul's coming visit. Reasons for his delay, you actually see about the references to his coming is references was coming. That's what he's talking about and why that was delayed and then to them through three through 11.

He moves into his past letter and basically he's been concerned for its disciplinary aftermath, and he talked about.

I wrote I wrote I wrote is focusing on the letter that he wrote in his concern about how they had would have responded to it and into 12 to 13 is Paul's present journey and specifically his concern over his delay in meeting up with Titus C that's that what he says here when I came to Truax as dumb at this present journey that he still on with righteous letter when I can neutralize I had no rest because it and find but then suddenly beginning in 214 you have the most unexpected and extended shift of focus. I would say in all of the epistolary literature. Paul transitions here into a major digression, a spirit direct a digression but a digression nonetheless. And that aggression is the subject of the seminary chapel series but first I want to show to you that it really is a digression. If you look at 212 through 13. Paul is distraught because he didn't find Titus intro as we went on the Macedonia.

He picks that up in 75 to 6 when we came to Macedonia carrying on with the story that I started back there in chapter 2. Our bodies had no rest but but God finally comforted us by the coming of Titus, which you got in between is 81 verses and yet Paul picks up exactly where he left off in chapter 2, and doesn't miss a beat. So what is in between what is all this 81 verses Paul actually shifts from his personal plans and his immediate concerns to a much bigger topic why he does what he does, or more accurately why we do what we do because there is a shift from first-person singular pronouns like I and me that character up out altogether look at the red all the way up to 213. It's I and me and my that admit he's egocentric, but that's the focus of what he's talking about.

But then you got a shift beginning in 214 first person plural all of a sudden that which we our us all the way through it into chapter 7 the pronouns completely shift and that shift from singular to plural and back again in chapter 7 is significant literarily because it's one of the markers that Paul has in fact shifted gears for this 81 for section, but the ship oral pronouns in the second section is also I think application we significant because the focus. By extension, is why we do what we do as new covenant apostolic ministers and when you trace Paul's thought in the two corresponding sides of the parenthesis 132 way and then seven you find this remarkably aligned. T. Asmus. He starts in chapter 1 with his coming visit. Reasons for delay his past letter, and then he said he ends the section the first section with his present journey. Then you got 81 verses in the knowledge that he picked right up to the present journey and it goes in past letter and then goes was coming visit if I can give you one more snapshot of the of the verbal topical correspondence between chapters 1 to 2 in chapter 7 because because that's what so clearly sets off the parenthesis as distinctive. So yes second printing is 1 to 2 on the left gets in Corinthian seven on the right and you didn't even have to be able see the words which you can see the correspondence of the words and the seams and the focus all the references to trip travel and tribulation in yellow. Got that matched over when he gets back in the chapter 7 all reference comfort you got matched over when he gets back to that in chapter 7. All reference to distance mean he comes back to that in chapter 7 the writing in the magenta he comes back to that in chapter 7 he that the Titus in Macedonia than there the item he comes back to that chapter 7 I have I have confidence in you and all things that that black with a white lettering.

He comes back to that job and what's interesting is he then talk about hardly any of that stuff in between. He talked about some suffering a little bit, but none of what you see, mirrored in 1 to 2 and seven is found in that parenthesis he's on a different track is a digression that's our focus. So what is it all about that he has that he has digressed to so that brings me to the theological context. So I want to do for the rest of our time pretty much as is map out the themes that dominate this parenthetical discussion. So we have a clear picture of the big ideas that are rolling around in this parenthetical digression. Themes are just leading ideas and ideas are conveyed by words and phrases. And if you pay attention to the words that dominate that's one of the most immediate tipoffs to what someone is talking about right is not rocket science doesn't even take very advanced exegetical work is just observant wide angle reading of the text. So what are some of the leading thematic words in this section.

What we were to talk about comfort and consolation. But look at the references chapter 1 Chapter 23 note for note 56. He didn't get back to that until seven. In other words, this is not something he talks about in the digression it disappears, it's not on the scope so it's one of the themes it ties together what comes before what comes after. But the theme doesn't surface and the parent that exception all now these next three are actually related.

So I put them up here together and get references to suffering. Chapter 1 references sorrow into and seven yet one in chapter 6 turns your trouble and affliction got a couple to get a little bet that that seam shows up a little bit in this parenthetical digression but the bulk of that focus. As you can see is in chapters 1 and two a and then seven so suffering is a topic that he returns to briefly and ties into this parenthetical discussion.

So what is the parent that it discussion all about primarily in history look at the references he doesn't use this terminology in chapter 1. He doesn't use it in chapter 2, three, four, five, six, he doesn't even use it. Back in chapter 7. In terms of this first main segment 137. He's focused on something very distinctive in this 81 verse parenthesis so it does show up just be just the tip you off.

This terminology does show up in chapters 8 and nine, but in a totally different sense of ministering to someone financially when he talks of the offering that shows up in the last section 10 through 13.

We talked about defending his ministry, but in terms of our focus are our section here. He doesn't talk about it wanted to, or seven. It's a focus it's the primary central focus so what does he have to say about this ministry.

Well it's glorious look at the references again. He doesn't use the term that terminology in one or two or and seven that's a focus it's a major focus, and he's connecting the ministry and the glory of that ministry. And then there's this, the term common command or commendation.

Again, do not see it in one or two it's it's it it's it's not huge but it is focused in this parenthesis that were command is a little easy for us to misunderstand. When Paul talks about commending ourselves to others.

He didn't mean self congratulation means demonstrating our authenticity. The authenticity of our ministry. So, for example, he says in chapter 4 verse two we have renounced shameful secret things. ESP says underhanded ways, not walking in craftiness, not distorting the word of God, but by the manifestation of the truth.

We commend ourselves, we authenticate ourselves to everyone's conscience in the sight of God.

So again, Paul's going to talk about this more in 10 to 13.

That's true. Specifically, as he defends the authenticity of his apostolic ministry against false teachers, but here in 336. In this this this openhearted unfolding of what it's like to be engaged in ministry. It's Paul's way of laying all of his cards on the table.

Don't like that analogy. All of his always critical cubes so that everybody can see what he's got he's not holding anything back is not hiding anything is basically saying look the way we live, the things we suffer.

And the reason we do all of this ought to commend the genuineness of us in our ministry to and when you trace those themes. The way that Paul weaves them together in this parenthesis you can summarize the core, the conversation this way. It has to do with authenticating ourselves as true ministers of a glorious gospel, even in the face of suffering. In the last few minutes when I want to do is try to flesh out the progression of that roughly 4 chapter discussion. Paul basically develops a series of of six propositions about Christian ministry.

Just ignore the chapter divisions just follow Paul's thought and look for grammatical and topical translations, trends, transitions, and I'll try to try to call your attention to the core sections of this risk can be kind of flying a little more slowly over to a through through chapter 6 if you look back in chapter 2 verse 14 and just, keep your eyes and ears open for those I maniacally had you turn or even look at a specific text, but I am now so turned to 14 if you haven't you not already there. This is the beginning of this section, the beginning of this print is beginning this digression can keep your eyes and ears open for those themes that we looked at the first major proposition that he argues for is that God diffuses the fragrance of his knowledge by making inadequate people adequate ministers of the surpassingly glorious new covenant.

Look at verse 14 but thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ and manifest throughout the sweet aroma of his knowledge of him in every place. For we are fragrance of Christ to God among those who were being saved and among those who are perishing. Verse 16 he says who's sufficient who's adequate for these things were not like many peddling the word of God. But as from sincerity as from God we speak and Christ in the sight of God. Look at chapter 3 verse five all drop down to not there were adequate in ourselves to consider is coming from our is anything coming from ourselves, but our adequacy or sufficiency is from God.

He has made us sufficient adequate as ministers of the new covenant as opposed to drug into verse 14. The old covenant, and you know this extended passage were Paul contrasts the glory of the old covenant ministry to the far surpassing greater glory of ministering the new covenant, with its uniquely transforming power. Look at the last verse of the chapter verse 18 but we all, with unveiled face beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the spirit, then he moves to this.

Therefore, we do not give in. Despite opposition reflection because this ministry is about others and God. It's not about us chapter 4 verse one therefore, since we have this ministry, as we receive mercy. The idea here is we don't give in, but we've renounced the hidden things of darkness are to read verse three weight has been authenticating ourselves to every man's conscience drop into verse five. For we don't preach ourselves, we preach Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your bond servants for Jesus sake, for God, who said light shall shine out of darkness, the he's the one who is shown in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of East but we have this treasure in earthen vessels so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves. Verse 15 for all things are for your sakes so that the grace which is spreading to more and more people may cause the giving of thanks to abound to the glory of God. This is that the whole ministry is about others and God is not about us that's a whole focus of that section and then he says besides our present affliction is bearable and momentary, compared to the future weight of eternal glory we verse 16. Therefore, we hits. He says again there therefore have a Gothic wheel given we don't lose heart, but though our outward man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. For this momentary, light affliction, and Paul speaking from considerable experience here.

Affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison. If you have never read CS Lewis's sermon the weight of glory. You owe it to your spiritual growth in your spiritual welfare to look that up in the three of you who take the trouble to remember and look it up and read it. It will be worldview altering for you be one of those three verse 18.

Why will it not of the things are seen that the things are not seen because things are seen are temporal things are not seen are eternal for just going right in chapter 5.

For we know there for earthly tent talks about the resurrection okay. As part of the glory that he where were looking forward to drop down verse nine. Therefore, we also have is our ambition, whether at home or absent to be pleasing to him because we are all going to appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each men weight will each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body with a better bet.

So, meanwhile, because of that. Meanwhile, our future accountability is motivating our present ministry is where he goes next with this, therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord we persuade men but we are made manifest to God and I hope were made manifest to your conscience as well drop into verse 18. Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation. So how do ministers validate their authenticity. He goes there next. 61 through 10.

We just start with chapter 6, verse three, giving no offense, no cause for offense and anything so that the ministry will not be discredited, but in everything, commending or authenticating ourselves as a servants of God and much endurance and afflictions hardships, distresses, beatings, imprisonments, tumults, labor sleep, regardless of the circumstances ministers. True ministers validate their authenticity. By this, their steadfastness, irrespective of circumstances, and then he comes lastly to this number, six minutes D's validate their authenticity by their holiness in a wholehearted response to their God-given ministers know what on earth is a ministry note is not a large aquatic mammal. Yet ministers administer these set simple. Don't bother looking it up in your dictionary is not there yet but look at what he says I'm a pick up, with verse 11 we have spoken freely to you, chapter 6, verse 11 we spoken freely to you Karen things are hard has been wide open to you. We held nothing back under the of you very free rendition verse 12. There is no reticence toward you on our part but you are reticent in your own affections toward us think that's the gist of what he saying there. So now in like exchange, we open our hearts to you. Open your heart wide to us. Verse 14. Don't be bound together with unbelievers what partnership has righteousness and lawlessness.

What fellowship has light with darkness dropped verse 16. What agreement has a temple of God with idols, for we are the temple of the living God, just as God is said, I will dwell in them and walk among them, and I will be their God and they shall be my people. That's new covenant language that's from the new covenant meal test.

Verse 17 therefore come out from their midst and be separate, says the Lord, and do not touch what is unclean and I will welcome you will be a father to you and you should be my sons and daughters to me, says the Lord Almighty.

Therefore now he applies it. Having these promises. Beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all the firewood of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God make room for us in your hearts we've grown no one with corrupted no one, we took advantage.

No one, and then he starts transitioning right back to where he left off into first half of chapter 2 Paul's principles of ministry in second Corinthians can be summarized. I think in four key points that surfaced repeatedly through the letter in a variety of expressions number one the necessity of establishing and maintaining credibility with those to whom we minister that's that's on the front burner for Paul.

Secondly, the importance of responding rightly to a minister who has establish credibility with us and not running to somebody else because I don't like their answer if he's establish credibility with. He was one of God's ministers will get one of God's appointed ministers in your life. Grant him that certainly the ministers gratification when people do respond rightly to his ministry of God's word and in the glories and challenges and priorities and sacrifices and privileges and responsibilities of an apostolic new covenant ministry that's that's at the heart of what he's focused on, especially in this digression as well and all through this section, Paul is compelling the church to evaluate Christian ministry and is interesting. He's not. He's not ready to pastors.

He's not just writing to professional ministers. He's he's explaining to the church at Corinth. What it's like to be engaged in ministry compelling them to evaluate Christian ministry in the light of larger realities).

In second Corinthians 214 272 is a wide-angle view of New Testament Christian ministry that will transform how you think about ministry, how you prepare for ministry right now. How you make plans and decisions when you're in ministry how you view yourself in the context of ministry back to suffering and ministry how you exercise discipline and how you respond to those who repent and and those who don't how you defend your ministry how you relate to your minutes. D's and how all of us regarding respond to God's appointed ministers in our lives. It would be hard, I think, to imagine an extended passage that is more apropos than this one for seminarians men and women who are called to prepare to minister Abbott's apostolic truth to others regardless of what your specific concentration.

So I think we have a an awesome series to look forward to and a lot to learn from Christ through Paul about ministry. Father, we thank you for the opportunity to have your word and to be able to spend this time looking at it in this particular way in this particular book. In this particular passage that you have graciously directed our attention to for the coming weeks. We ask you would teach us that you would open things in our experience in our minds and our hearts and our understanding that we have not seen before that you would firm up the things that we already hold to and need to not give in on we pray Lord that you would sanctify us and sanctify this passage to us to accomplish all that you desire to in all of our lives as ministers of New Testament apostolic truth we are seeking to continue on. Pray in Jesus name, amen. You been listening to a sermon from BJ your seminary professor, Dr. Layton Talbert thanks for listening and join us again tomorrow as we continue the study in second Corinthians on The Daily Platform

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