Sunday, November 22, 2015

Paul's Epistles - 2 Corinthians Part 15 – Defending Paul’s Ministry

Paul's Epistles - 2 Corinthians
Part 15 – Defending Paul’s Ministry
Pastor Bruce A. Shields
House of Faith Church | www.PS127.org | www.TruthDigest.org


INTRODUCTION
Paul's second letter to the church in Corinth began with letting the church know that Paul was happy to hear that the church had received and responded correctly to his first letter.

Remembering James 5:19, 20 " My brothers and sisters, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring that person back, 20 remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of their way will save them from death and cover over a multitude of sins."  

Paul explained why he didn't visit them and that he was pleased they had responded well to his first letter, even though not all had repented.

Last week we looked at Paul encouraging the church to allow the offender of incest return to the congregation, because he had truly repented and turned away from his sin, therefore he had been forgiven. Paul said that his punishment by the church forcing him to leave the congregation was enough, and that since he had repented and was forgiven, they must allow him back.

Paul reminded them that it was not that long ago, they too were not living as God wanted them, and they repented, and were forgiven by Paul.

Paul reminds the church in Corinth, and us as well, that forgiveness to those who have repented is essential, not only because we are commanded to do so by Christ, but because when we forgive, we keep Satan from having a way to outwit us.

Satan will use our unforgiveness as a weapon against us in his schemes.

As long as we have unforgiveness against someone who has repented, we are being disobedient to the Lord, which in turn allows a foothold for Satan to work against us.

Satan is always looking for an area of our lives where we are being disobedient, which allows him room to work his schemes against us.

This week Paul defends his ministry.  


SCRIPTURE REFERENCE II Corinthians 10:1-18
By the humility and gentleness of Christ, I appeal to you—I, Paul, who am “timid” when face to face with you, but “bold” toward you when away! I beg you that when I come I may not have to be as bold as I expect to be toward some people who think that we live by the standards of this world. For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. And we will be ready to punish every act of disobedience, once your obedience is complete.

You are judging by appearances. If anyone is confident that they belong to Christ, they should consider again that we belong to Christ just as much as they do. So even if I boast somewhat freely about the authority the Lord gave us for building you up rather than tearing you down, I will not be ashamed of it. I do not want to seem to be trying to frighten you with my letters.10 For some say, “His letters are weighty and forceful, but in person he is unimpressive and his speaking amounts to nothing.”11 Such people should realize that what we are in our letters when we are absent, we will be in our actions when we are present.

12 We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise. 13 We, however, will not boast beyond proper limits, but will confine our boasting to the sphere of service God himself has assigned to us, a sphere that also includes you. 14 We are not going too far in our boasting, as would be the case if we had not come to you, for we did get as far as you with the gospel of Christ. 15 Neither do we go beyond our limits by boasting of work done by others. Our hope is that, as your faith continues to grow, our sphere of activity among you will greatly expand, 16 so that we can preach the gospel in the regions beyond you. For we do not want to boast about work already done in someone else’s territory. 17 But, “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.” 18 For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends.

Paul as well as his ministry of the Gospel was under attack.

Some of his opposition were those who were making a living off God’s people, and claiming to belong to Christ, while Paul and his ministry did not.

Paul defends his position and ministry by the evidence which is in the faces of the Corinthian church.

·        When Paul preached the Gospel, they were saved, converted and built the church.
o   A true conversion as they experienced is NOT possible without the Holy Spirit
o   Paul’s message brought about that change, proving he was from God
·        When the Corinthians strayed from the Truth of the Gospel, Paul’s letter stirred their spirits, and they returned to the Truth of the Gospel.
o   True repentance brought about a renewal of their relationship with God
o   Returning to God proved Paul and his letter was inspired by the Holy Spirit, because it accomplished what Paul had intended, to return the church to a right and good standing and back to their position of Salvation with God.
o   This would only take place with one who is given authority by God



    I.      WHO I (PAUL) AM
a. I Paul, being humble and gentle in Christ
                                                     i. Characteristics given by the Holy Spirit

1. Galatians 5:22-23But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”



b. I do not want to be bold when I come
                                                     i. Bold as I was in my letters to you (I & II Corinthians)

                                                  ii. As bold as I will be towards those who think we must live by worldly standards

                                               iii. His opposition tried proving they were God’s true messengers by measuring themselves by worldly evidence.



c. The weapons we fight with are not worldly
                                                     i. vs 4-6 “The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. And we will be ready to punish every act of disobedience, once your obedience is complete.”

                                                  ii. You are judging by appearances.
1. Just because your church may have 5,000 members, how many are saved?
2. Just because your ministry raised $6 million last year, how much of that was actually used to fund Christian ministers families and missionaries to preach and teach the Gospel message?

3. Just because you have some of the most beautiful churches, with gold embellished artifacts, long robes and tall hats, what does your inside look like?


a. Matthew 23:25-28"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside they are full of robbery and self-indulgence. "You blind Pharisee, first clean the inside of the cup and of the dish, so that the outside of it may become clean also. "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men's bones and all uncleanness.
"So you, too, outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.



II.      WHO THEY (OPPOSITION) SAY I AM
a. They say I am timid face to face, and bold when away?
                                                     i. They say, in his letter he is forceful, but in person he is unimpressive and his speaking amounts to nothing.

                                                  ii. As one speaking Truth, if Truth amounts to nothing in your life, it is because of YOU, not the Word of God.

                                               iii. This statement made by Paul’s opposition about him reveals their hearts, not his ministry.



b. They say they belong to Christ, not us?
                                                     i. Paul answers, We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves.”

                                                  ii. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise.”

                                               iii. Paul’s opposition believed they were right with God because they measured themselves by their own standards instead of the Truth of Scripture.

                                                iv. Anyone can “measure up” to themselves or others...but the real measure of a man is against Christ Jesus.



c. They say we go beyond our limits of boasting?
                                                     i. They attack Paul’s authority (as seen in earlier verses)

                                                  ii. They attack Paul’s message

                                               iii. They attack Paul’s letter to the church (I Corinthians)

                                                iv. Now on with the personal attacks, they attack his boldness in letters, but supposed tameness in person.

                                                   v. They called him unimpressive, and his words amounting to nothing

                                                vi. Then they say he is a braggart
1. Boasting of things with pride and arrogance

                                             vii. Paul corrects them by showing his boasting is in Christ, and what God has given authority to, or what the Holy Spirit has worked through, and what Christ has done in.



III.      WE WHO (PAUL AND MINISTRY) ARE IN CHRIST JESUS
a. The authority Christ gives me is to build you up
                                                     i. Not to tear you down

                                                  ii. This is why Paul did not boast about his authority, unless the time came when he had to correct a church as in this case.

                                               iii. Paul said when he reminded them of his authority, it was not to brag about himself, but to boast about what was entrusted to him by God, and that if the church do what he wrote them, they would return to Grace with God.

                                                iv. The fact that he wrote them, told of his authority, corrected them, and they listened and were returned to God, proved that his boasting was not for self-righteous or prideful lifting up of himself, but to build THEM up, not tear them down.

1. When someone brags of themselves, it is to build themselves up, and in most cases we tear other people down when we do this.

2. However, if we have authority in Christ, we use that authority to build others up, edify and strengthen them, lifting them when they are in sin, not acting is self-righteousness, and behaving as we are better than them, or above them, which is exactly how Paul’s opposition was behaving.



b. Don’t worry, what we are in our letters, we will be in our presence
                                                     i. Paul said this for the benefit of the few within the Corinthian church who had not repented

                                                  ii. These were more than likely some of his oppositions planted members

                                               iii. Trying to cause divisions within the church



c. We will continue to boast!
                                                     i. Because they were boasting appropriately!

                                                  ii. They boasted of the service God had assigned them to

                                               iii. They boasted of the work God had done among the Corinthian Church

                                                iv. They boasted of the Gospel of Christ, which saves and frees from bondage of sin

                                                   v. They boast of the work done by others in the power of the Holy Spirit




CONCLUSION - Our hope is your faith will grow, so your activity will greatly expand

16 so that we can preach the gospel in the regions beyond you. For we do not want to boast about work already done in someone else’s territory. 17 But, “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.” 18 For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends.

Paul was praying that with the renewal of the Corinthian church, their faith in Christ would grow, and as it did, they would Spiritually mature.

With Spiritual maturity, they would have an ever growing concern for others to receive this Gospel message of Christ Jesus.

They would prepare the way in the lands around them for Paul and his ministers of the Gospel to come, share the message of Christ, and build more churches.

His last verse today reminds the church, and everyone else,

it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends.





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