2 Corinthians 1-13 – The Bible from 30,000 Feet – Skip Heitzig – Flight 2COR1

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2 Corinthians 1-13 – The Bible from 30,000 Feet – Skip Heitzig – Flight 2COR1

[MUSIC PLAYING] The Bible from 30,000 Feet, soaring through the Scripture from Genesis to Revelation Would you turn, in your Bibles, please, to the book of II Corinthians Boy, we’re making good progress We’re in week 44 of the Bible from 30,000 Feet We’re in II Corinthians, so we don’t have much of the New Testament left And the books to follow II Corinthians are much shorter I don’t know how you have imagined Paul the Apostle to be, to look like, to seem in his personality, but I bet you have some idea in your mind of what Paul would have been like to hang out with Some of you might think that Paul was exacting or austere, aloof, maybe harsh even by some of the things he has done or said If any of those things fit your personal idea of Paul, you need to think again, and II Corinthians gives you insight into the kind of character that Paul had He was far from those things, though he was not afraid of a good fight He could be feisty He could be argumentative What we discover in II Corinthians is just how tenderhearted the man was Now, you’re familiar with the Bible I’m speaking here to a group of believers that are Bible students Some of you are, I would even say, advanced Bible students In terms of world population, you probably know more of the scriptures than most Christians that live on Earth today I’m not saying that there aren’t scholars who know more than all of us, but if you were just to take what normal average Christians around the world know, you know a lot And we’ve heard so much about Paul, it’s easy to turn our minds off and go, here’s another fact about Paul the Apostle Here’s another idea about Paul I’ve heard that name so often And what we have, though, in II Corinthians, is Paul’s journal, his personal journal, unedited, unvarnished, and published without his consent for the world, for posterity, to see And it is a very unique book It is very different from I Corinthians, different from the other books in the New Testament It is one of my favorite books in the New Testament I know you hear me say that a lot about a lot of books, but truly, I feel II Corinthians doesn’t get near enough attention Most people love I Corinthians If they know anything about Corinth, it’s usually I Corinthians It’s all the problems that church had It’s how Paul dealt with them, corrected them But II Corinthians should never be overlooked If you are a counselor, if you are a compassionate person, you will eat up II Corinthians There’s a lot to deal in this book that deals with those items In this journal of Paul, his letter to the Corinthians, we get some very interesting descriptions that Paul gives us of himself– again, words you wouldn’t associate with him Weak– I was with you in weakness, he said Brokenness, humility, humanity– we see the real Paul behind the scenes as he anguishes over a church that had come to misunderstand him He founded the church, but by this time that he writes II Corinthians, there was a misunderstanding and gossip and rumor, even about the apostle Paul When I talk about brokenness, let me give you a couple examples In chapter 1, Paul mentions that he was despairing at one point, even of life itself You didn’t picture Paul that way, ready to give up on life I’ve despaired even of life When we get to chapter 4, he will talk about his past, where he and his other fellow ministry

workers were hard-pressed beyond measure The pressures of life were doing him under He said, I was perplexed, struck down, but not struck out In chapter 6, he’ll talk about being persecuted, being in prison, being distressed And then we get to chapter 12, and Paul will admit that he suffered a physical malady that he calls a thorn, literally a stake, a thorn in the flesh, something that he begged God three times to remove And God said nope, nope, nope All three times, God answered in the negative, so Paul had to live with that stake in the flesh until the day he died But, he said, what God did tell me is that He gives me all the grace I need to handle that He said no to my request to get rid of the problem, but God did promise He’ll give me the grace to endure the problem So he’s very open He’s very, even, self-effacing in this book And so the best title I’ve ever found for the book of II Corinthians comes in a book that I brought with me called A Heart Open Wide I’m not doing this to sell this guy’s book I don’t even think he’s around anymore Homer Kent may be around, but he’s a commentator This is his studies in II Corinthians, but he called it A Heart Opened Wide It’s a good title for this book It’s where Paul opens up his heart, and he even mentions to the Corinthians, we have opened– I have opened my heart to you Why don’t you open your heart to me? But I just wanted to share with you something that Homer Kent says about II Corinthians He said, “Some letters are born out of careful reflection and precise planning Others spring from deep emotion The apostle Paul wrote both kinds His epistle to the Romans is an example of the former II Corinthians is a product of the latter When the apostle penned his second canonical epistle to the Corinthians, he was writing with a mixture of elation and deep concern, of personal defense coupled with generous understanding and praise This beautiful letter is the most personal and revealing document we have from Paul’s pen for it uncovers the affectionate warmth of the man while at the same time showing the anguish of heart, which he often suffered.” So that’s Homer Kent’s beginning introductory remarks on his very fine commentary on II Corinthians It is A Heart Opened Wide Now, Paul, we know– little refresher– originally spent a year and a half, 18 months, in Corinth It was the longest stay at any of the places where he founded churches, except one that was Ephesus He stayed there 18 months He went into the synagogue of the Jews Shared the gospel Lived with a couple we mentioned last week– Aquila and Priscilla, that cute named couple They were all tent makers by trade Paul did that on the side to get finances to support his own ministry He was also being supported by the churches up in the Macedonia region They were funding his trip to Corinth After a while, he left Aquila and Priscilla and moved next door to the synagogue, where a guy by the name of Justice had a home He moved in with him It was convenient He could just walk across the street, go into the synagogue, share, but things got really rough for him in Corinth And so he left, and he went to Ephesus In Ephesus, he stayed almost three years From Ephesus, he wrote a letter to Corinth He wrote at least three letters Some even think four letters There may have even been more letters It doesn’t matter He’s in Ephesus Somebody from Corinth by the name of Chloe, somebody from that household, comes and says, Paul, we’ve got problems back in Corinth Could you help us? There are divisions in the church People are not getting along They’re dividing up into little groups, one against the other like little mini denominations in one church Not only that, but some of the instructions you’ve given us,

we haven’t completed, and there’s a whole host of problems There’s doctrinal issues we have questions about So he wrote I Corinthians to correct those problems At some point after that, while he was an emphasis– in Ephesus, and emphasizing the truth from Ephesus to the Corinthians, he decided to send Timothy to Ephesus So get this– to Corinth I’m getting it all backwards, sorry He’s in Ephesus He writes to Corinth He decides to send Timothy to Corinth, and later on, Titus to Corinth So get this– Corinth has seen the ministry of Paul the Apostle; Timothy, his protege; Titus, also his protege; and Apollos, that incredible orator that is written about in I Corinthians So they had quite an apostolic lineup One of the things Timothy told Paul is that there’s yet another problem in Corinth Some of what you wrote about in the first letter, they’ve applied Some of it, not so much They haven’t completed the instructions on that offering that you were taking for the church in Jerusalem But the big problem you have, Paul, is there’s a new group in town They’ve come into the church, a new group of apostles, false apostles They claim to be from Judea, and they are discrediting everything you say and are about They’re talking smack about you They’re saying you’re insincere, you’re a troublemaker, that you write some bold letters, but you’re really timid and weak up close And so believe it or not, these false apostles are managing to turn this church that you started away from you, so that they have become against you because of these false apostles So when Paul writes his second letter to the Corinthians, he gets very emotional, and it’s sort of a wandering river filled with intrigue and animation And then it follows a little quiet stream and trickle, and then it gets rambunctious again So it’s kind of a windy African river taking you to a whole bunch of different places, especially emotional places Now, Paul wrote this for a couple of reasons He wrote this for personal reasons because he wants to correct their thinking, but also public reasons, and for them to finish that grace he talked about back in the first letter, the offering he was taking for the church in Jerusalem There is a flow to this letter, and I’ll give you the movements of it I’ll announce it, and then we’ll go through the letter itself Keep in mind, this– we’re not going deep We’re going long We’re going to finish this book This is a survey So Paul begins with corrections He’s going to correct their thinking about him He’s going to correct their treatment of a brother who had sinned and now needs to be forgiven and brought back in So corrections, he gives, followed by some instructions, followed by some exhortations, followed by a collection that he’s going to bring this up again Two chapters on how to take that offering for the church in Jerusalem followed by a vindication That is, he is going to defend his own ministry, his own style, and his own message That’s how the book flows We’re going to begin in chapter 1 verse 1 with a few verses and make our way through Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ, by the will of God, and Timothy, our brother, to the Church of God, which is at Corinth with all the Saints who are in all Achaea Achaea is the region Corinth was in the region of Achaea We’re talking about the area of Greece It’s down from Athens 45 miles, and that region of that peninsula we talked about last week, the Peloponnesian peninsula– that was called Achaea So to all those churches that are around the area, grace to you in peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of Mercies, the God of All Comfort, who comforts us

in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God This gives us the setup for the book, the introduction Already he’s on a softer note, a softer tone He’s talking about God’s mercy and consolation and comfort, and he reminds these people, as one who has suffered himself, that God never wastes suffering And because God never wastes it, you should never waste it You should ask why– not, Lord, why are you allowing me to go through this? Dumb question because you’ll probably never get the answer this side of Heaven Better question is what should I get out of this? Don’t waste your suffering God is investing some experience in you Why? Because later on, you’re going to meet someone who’s had a similar experience going through it You’ve gone through it Tell them how you did it Tell them what you leaned on Tell them what got you through that Somebody who is well-off and never was without employment in their life won’t be a great counselor to somebody who has lost a job and needs to pay a house payment Somebody who has lost a child to death is the best one to sit next to somebody else who has lost a child, a like experience So one of the reasons we go through it is He comforts us in our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble by the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God I’m not going to ask a show of hands because every hand would go up if I said, is anybody here presently going through some sort of difficulty or trial? We all are If we’re not, we just did, and if those two aren’t true, we’re just about to We’re in one of those three categories We’ve either come from a trial, we’re presently in one, or we’re about to enter one And so our joy is always being challenged, and here’s a benchmark for you Christian maturity can be measured by what it takes to steal your joy What would it take to rob you of your joy? For some people, not much For some people, just a bad driver cutting them off down the street They lift up a hand, they put a finger out, and it’s not the one way sign or the peace sign Before that they, were singing a Christian song, a hit on the radio, and they’re just in love Oh, Lord, I love you, then that jerk pulled out in front of me, and I got to show him Really? That’s all it takes? Your joy went out the window just because of one driver? If you’re going to live here for very long, you better get used to it It’s the place where bad drivers from all America congregate in one city Getting back to the book, we’ve come to the first section that I told you about– corrections First of all, Paul needs to give them some correction as to why he changed his plans He gave an itinerary back in I Corinthians of his plans that included visiting Corinth, where he would go first, then go to Corinth, then go later His plans have changed False apostles have seized upon the change of plans to accuse Paul of not being trustworthy You can’t trust him Look, he tells you he’s going to do one thing, but he does something else So Paul needs to explain why he changed his plans and how he lives by faith And God is the ultimate editor in life, and I give Him my plans I make them, but then God laughs at them and makes His own plans The other issue is to correct them, the Corinthians, on how they have treated a brother in the fellowship that needs now to be forgiven So go down to chapter 2 verse 4 Let’s just pick up a couple of verses For out of much affliction and anguish of heart, I wrote to you–

that’s back in I Corinthians– with many tears not that you should be grieved, but that you might know the love, which I have so abundantly for you In that previous letter in the 5th chapter, Paul wrote some pretty harsh things that needed to be written He said, I’ve heard about this immoral person in your church, somebody who has committed incest, somebody who has gone to bed and had physical relations with his stepmother And it to make it worse, Paul said, instead of grieving over that and mourning over that, you brag about it You’re that weird church that likes to say, we tolerate any kind of behavior Man, we’ll just give you a hug Even if you live in that openly flagrantly sinful lifestyle, we’ll just embrace you and hug you because toleration is our highest virtue Paul says, shame on you And he said, what should happen is you should call that person to account and have them repent of their sin If they don’t repent, you need to put that person out of your midst Disfellowship that person, not to shun or isolate them for any reason except to awaken his heart to repentance Well, apparently, they did that, but it seemed like they did it overboard They were a little too harsh, for he goes on to say, down in verse 5, but if anyone has caused grief, he has not grieved me, but all of you to some extent, not to be too severe This punishment, which was inflicted by the majority, is sufficient It’s enough for such a man Enough is enough You will remember in Luke 17, Jesus said, if your brother sins against you– you know what you’re supposed to do? It says, rebuke him If your brother sins against you, rebuke him Go up to him and say, you sinned against me That was wrong Don’t be afraid to do that Confront If your brother sins against you, rebuke him If he repents, forgive him They, it seems, got the first part right They didn’t before They were tolerating it Paul said, shame on you You’ve got to do something about this This said, OK, let’s get really nasty and dirty and angry and kick him out, and apparently, it worked That disfellowshipping awakened his heart He turned back to the Lord He was sorrowful He was in deep sorrow, and they would not accept nor forgive him And so Paul says, enough This punishment, verse 6, which was inflicted by the majority, is sufficient for such a man, so that on the contrary, you ought rather to forgive and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one be swallowed up with too much sorrow Therefore, I urge you to reaffirm your love for him– go down to verse 11– lest Satan should take advantage of us, for we are not ignorant of his devices Paul knew there had to be a balance You reacted, but you overreacted It worked It did its duty That disfellowshipping brought him back Now, when he comes back, receive him back Let him come back into church None of this folding your arms– well, I don’t know if he’s truly repentant, or he just says he is Jesus said, if your brother asks for forgiveness, if he confesses his sin, you forgive him You bring him back Satan has a plan, a strategy We’re not ignorant of his devices Let me tell you one of his devices, as seen here– divide and conquer Get church people to argue– sometimes about important things, but usually about trivial matters, dumb stuff Get them angry and argumentative over style rather than substance, because if he can do that, if he can divide into camps, into groups, he can get a foothold in a congregation He always is looking to get a foothold, and often, it comes through the unwillingness to forgive I remember a Christian woman who had a very difficult time with an ex-husband Ex-husband treated her horribly Rightly, she was grieved Rightly, she felt defeated and depleted and angry

But he had become a Christian, but she still had a difficult time He asked for forgiveness She had a difficult time giving forgiveness She goes, how can I love him? Let me tell you what he’s done to me She said, he is my enemy He has become my enemy I said, well, Jesus said love your enemies Do good to those who persecute you Love them She goes on, how do you do that? Jesus never said feel like doing it You’ll never feel like it You have to act the opposite of what your feelings are telling you That’s obedience That’s obedience It’s making a choice In fact, you will blow– if people are mean to you, and you go out of your way to show love to them, you’re going to blow their minds They’re going to look at you very suspiciously, like what’s the ulterior motive here? And like one commentator said, love your enemies It’ll drive them nuts Try it You want to really– that person– you want to really get to them? Love them Lavish your love on them Buy them a gift Send them a note of encouragement It might heal the relationship as you make the first move So anyway, he says, enough is enough Bring them back We’re not ignorant of his devices Don’t give Satan a foothold, which would become a stronghold Now, the second section is instruction, or let’s call it explanation In chapters 2 verse 14 to chapter 6 verse 10, Paul explains his ministry He explains his motive of his ministry He explains the message that he preaches Go to chapter 4 and look at verse 1 Therefore, since we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we do not lose heart The ministry that Paul had was not a ministry he sat around one day and said, you know, I’d like to be called into the Christian ministry If you recall, this ministry was thrust upon him He was out to kill, to destroy, to pillage the Christian church He got an apparition on the road to Damascus He said, who are you, Lord? The Lord told him, I’m Jesus What do you want me to do, Lord? That was his second question Ananias, who lived in Damascus, was to give Paul the instructions of his future ministry The Lord said, this man Paul is going to stand before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel, and I’m going to show him how many things he should suffer for my sake So Paul recognized, I received this ministry I didn’t sign up for it on my own The Lord found me This is what I’m called to by that Damascus road experience Go down to verse 7 But we have this treasure– the treasury he’s speaking about in the verses that are previous to this are the truth of the gospel We have this treasure in earthen vessels That’s you, man That’s your body– an earthen vessel We have this incredible treasure in clay pots Very, very costly treasure Very simple vessels It’s just us We carry the gospel message That the excellence of the power– and here’s why God wanted to do that The excellence of the power may be of God, and not of us For we are hard pressed on every side Now, he’s going to get very, very honest about his own experiences again We’re hard pressed– this is his journal– on every side, yet not crushed We are perplexed, but not in despair Persecuted, but not forsaken Struck down, but not struck out, literally– not destroyed Always carrying about in the body, the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body Now, there’s a few things we know about Paul’s life He lists these things, but can you think back to the book of Acts? As soon as he came to know the Lord, we got into trouble at Damascus They had to let him over a wall in a? Basket Basket, a trash basket That’s the illustrious beginning of the great apostolic ministry of the apostle Paul– a trash basket Later on, he went to Lystra They took out rocks, threw at him, stoned him

They thought he was dead Drug him out of the city to bury him He goes to Philippi Starts a riot in Philippi They drag him to jail, chain him up He makes it to Athens, Corinth, goes to Ephesus A riot in Ephesus broke out in this incredibly large theater, 25,000 people, 25,000 seat theater, that drove Paul away from Ethesus So wherever he went, trouble followed him, and so he writes about this We can fit some of those experiences from the book of Acts into it Paul worked hard The ministry wasn’t easy for Paul Now, we think of being an apostle– go, man, what a great life I don’t know if anybody actually thinks that You’d have to be pretty naive, but I imagine there are young believers who go, wow, the apostle Paul They get stars in their eyes, and they say, well, this guy wrote so much of the Bible What a life People look at the ministry here, and people have said, boy, you’re a pastor of such a large church And they see the large church, but they don’t see the years of sorrow, of anguish, of hard labor, of work, of working two jobs to do the ministry in the early years, of the scorn and the ridicule and on and on Paul worked hard Charles Spurgeon, one of my favorite quotes– I wanted to pull this out He said, “If you plan to be lazy, there are plenty of avocations in which you will not be wanted But above all, you are not wanted in the Christian ministry The man who finds that the ministry is an easy life will also find that it brings a hard death.” Let me give you a little honest insight into ministry Every month, thousands of ministers quit the ministry I’ve read statistics up to 60,000, I don’t know, a year, or some crazy amount of ministers just say no to the ministry, and there’s reasons why They said, number one, the ministry is detrimental to our family The Christian ministry is detrimental to raising my children and having a good marriage 85% just said, I’m just tired of dealing with problem people and people’s problems, especially who don’t want to change So if you’re going to be in ministry, whether you’re going to be an apostle or a pastor or interface at all with people, you’re going to need to understand that it’s not going to be an easy road Stuart Briscoe gives some of the best advice for a pastor He said, the pastor needs the heart of a child, the mind of a scholar, and the hide of a rhinoceros Now, you will get that eventually You’ll get that third You’ll always get it You’ll toughen up Criticisms will toughen you up, but be careful that it doesn’t toughen you up too much, that you become impervious to certain things, because you still need the heart of a child You need the mind of a scholar You need to read and study, and you do that, and if you’re in the ministry, that’s what we do That’s my life But you need to be sensitive to certain people and certain things at the same time You just have to let a lot roll off, bounce off So these are his credentials in ministry This is his explanation of that If I take you down to chapter 5, he continues giving us his motivation for ministry, a couple of them Number one is he knows what’s coming in the future We know, verse 1, if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens Paul always knew that, one day, he’d be home, and this is not home He knew that Heaven was his home He talked about it with such reality that, when he wrote to the Philippians, he said, I’m in a straight between two I’m torn between two realities I have a desire to be with Christ, which is far better, nevertheless to remain here on Earth as more needful for you as your leader He goes, I don’t know what I’d really rather have Should I stay here and minister to you,

or should I just go home and be with the Lord? Not that I have a choice, but if I had to pick one, I think I’d pick going home to be with the Lord For Paul, it was always the ultimate payoff It became a motivation for his ministry A second motivation was the love of Christ Go down to verse 14– for the love of Christ compels us because we judge thus, that if one died for all, than all died, and he died for all that those who lived should live no longer for themselves, but for him who died for them and rose again Go down to verse 21 I’m taking you to verse 21 because it is one of the clearest scriptures in the New Testament on substitutionary atonement It is one of the great summary verses of all For he made him Jesus– God made Jesus He made him who knew no sin to be sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God in Him I recommend that you memorize that verse It sums up so much It gives us the doctrine of vicarious atonement, that one’s perfect life became a substitute for all of the sinners, that whoever believes in him would not perish, but have everlasting life It gives us the doctrine of imputation God imputed to Jesus our sin God imputes to us our– His righteousness, so that by that act, He can justify us All of that is in this verse I’ll retranslate this verse a different way God the Father treated Jesus Christ as if he committed every sin ever committed The wrath of God fell on Jesus at the cross, and the anguish in the midst of that six-hour transaction on the cross was more than just physical pain and anguish, because he cried out in the middle of it, my God, my God, why have you forsaken me? So God treated Jesus like you and I deserve to be treated, so that God could treat us like Jesus deserves to be treated That’s substitutionary atonement That’s imputation, and that’s all encapsulated in that verse It’s akin to Isaiah chapter 53 Surely he has born our griefs and carried our sorrows, and we esteemed him smitten, stricken of God, and afflicted But he was wounded for our transgression, bruised for our iniquities The chastisement for our peace was upon him, and by his stripes, we are healed Same truth in one verse Now, the third section of II Corinthians is exhortation That takes us from chapter 6 around verse 11 over to chapter 7 verse 16, or the end of chapter 7 The exhortation is about their attitude Their attitude has changed toward Paul Paul was their founder They loved him They even had a little small group that postured itself against the followers of Peter and Apollos, and the very super spiritual were of Christ Some said, we’re of Paul But since that time, as I mentioned, the church turned on Paul, second guessing his motivation He’s untrustworthy He’s trying to raise money for that church in Jerusalem He’s just trying to get your money Because he speaks about generosity like he did back in I Corinthians, he’s going to do– speak even clearer in this section He’s going to exhort them about separating themselves from the world Go down to verse 11 Oh, Corinthians– now, here’s where that title of Homer Kent’s book comes from Oh, Corinthians, we have spoken openly to you Our heart is wide open You are not restricted by us, but you are restricted by your own affection, your lack of love Now, in return for the same, I speak as to children– you also be open Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers, for what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? What communion has light with darkness? What accord has Christ with Belial, another name for Satan?

Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God, as God has said Primarily, these verses are talking about being separated from false apostles, not being yoked together with these false teachers that bring a false gospel, a different gospel, a very legalistic gospel, saying we’re sent from apostles in Judea when they weren’t, turning the hearts of the Corinthians away from what Paul taught them So primarily, these verses about not being unequally yoked have to do with separating from false teachers However, you can go on to make application in a number of areas The illustration comes from the Old Testament When they would plow a field, when they would do a work, they were told to pick two animals of the same kind, same temperament So if you were to get animals to plow your field, you wanted to make sure that you got not an ox and a sheep, not an ox and a rabbit, but two oxen roughly the same size, roughly the same temperament Not one going in one direction, and one going in another direction because they’re going to pull the plow, and the last thing you want is two animals going in two different directions So you can make application to a number areas of life, like marriage You want to make sure that when you, as a Christian believer, get married, you find somebody who loves the Lord, who’s going in the same direction you are, keeping the same pace you are You’re a Christian woman You’ve walked with the Lord 10, 20 years You’re waiting for a husband Don’t find the guy who came forward at last week’s ultra call who, while he’s good looking, he’s got a warm smile, yes, but you have to pull that plow You have to serve the Lord throughout a lifetime Now, granted, he can grow very quickly, but give him time to grow Make sure that you’re equally yoked That’s just common sense If you’re a farmer, that’s common sense You should apply common sense to a marriage relationship You should apply common sense to a business relationship If you’re a believing business person, and you’re going to go into partnership with another business person, are you doing it for the right reasons, for the same reasons? Or you both have the same kind of temperament? Is it to the glory of God? You want to ask yourself those questions because you don’t want to be pulled apart Now, go down to chapter 7 verse 2 He continues along this line to the Corinthians about opening up Open your hearts to us, he continues We have wronged no one We have corrupted no one We have cheated no one I do not say this to condemn you, for I have said before that you are in our hearts to die together and to live together Great is my boldness toward you Great is my boasting on your behalf I am filled with comfort I am exceedingly joyful in all our tribulation It seems, in reading between the lines in II Corinthians– and again, I gave it a fresh read this week It seems that these false apostles were accusing Paul of not only changing his plans and being untrustworthy, but by being overbearing He had told him, in the first book, I Corinthians chapter 5, to take that sinning person in their midst and remove them I can just hear the false apostles– what a harsh person Paul is There’s no love in him There’s no toleration and forgiveness in him What a hard hearted man Paul wasn’t there to defend himself, so they made up a narrative They made up motives Also, because he was taking up a collection, as I said, for that church in Jerusalem– he’s a money grubber So Paul finds the need, at several points in this letter, to vindicate his own integrity, mostly toward the end of the book We’ll get to that Go over to chapter 8 Now, chapter 8 and 9 gives us the fourth section of this book, and that is the collection He started taking a collection for the church in Jerusalem He told the church at Corinth to participate Churches already around the known world

were participating in this collection And Corinth had sort of started, but then dropped the ball, lagged behind And so he says, well, the other churches are a lot poorer than you are, but they have excelled in their giving So get on the move, man Finish it up Now, this begs the question, why was Paul so keen on raising money for the church in Jerusalem? I mean, it almost sounds weird It almost sounds like missions in reverse Here, the Church of Jerusalem was the original church, sending everybody out It was the large Jewish conclave, and they sent people all over the place And now, all those people are said, you better support Jerusalem It’s like foreign missions in reverse Well, let me paint the picture quickly Jerusalem always struggled financially It was one of their talking points There were a group of widows who felt neglected when the daily distribution was going on The Gentile widows– or the Greek speaking widows against the Hebrew widows You remember that story in Acts Then because most of the jobs in Jerusalem were related to the temple, and the temple was controlled by the Sadducees, they were the main power in Jerusalem, and the Sadducees did not believe in the doctrine of Resurrection Now, the message that Jesus has risen from the dead that these Christians are giving out all over Jerusalem didn’t sit well with them So those who were in control of the largest job provider in Jerusalem probably let all of those Christians go, fired them all, so they lost their jobs, number one Number two, they had pooled their resources Remember that early communal living, where they sold their homes, and they made one big money pot for all the believers? So they did that Now, they’re out of money Number three, there has been a famine in Judea, and it hit really hard in Jerusalem In Acts chapter 11, one of the prophets in the New Testament by the name of Agabus predicted a famine in Judea And the writer of Acts, Luke, says it happened, and it hit Jerusalem hard So those three things– the Christian witness in Jerusalem was waning because people thought, we got to leave We got to go And so Paul says, let’s take up a collection and support our brothers So that’s the reason for this, and you find it in several epistles Chapter 8 verse 1– moreover, brethren, we make known to you the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia– Macedonia is where he had come from before Corinth– that in a great trial of affliction, the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded in the riches of their liberality For I bear witness that according to their ability, yes, and beyond their ability, they were freely willing Now, usually, Paul will say the instruction is we should give– the amount isn’t important, like a fixed amount, as much as the proportion You give proportionate to how God has blessed you But in the case of those in Macedonia, they gave not proportionately, but sacrificially beyond their proportion They were in deep poverty, and the word he uses is they were in extreme need And yet they desired– it was their idea to give, so they were very, very generous David in the Old Testament followed this principle He believed that giving to the Lord should cost you something You should feel it When he wanted to buy a threshing floor to build a temple, and he went to the owner named Ornan, and he said, I want to buy your threshing floor, and Ornan said, David, you’re going to build a temple for God You can have it, man It’s my donation Gift in kind, dude David said, no, I’ll give you the fair price Ornan said, no, it’s for the Lord Take it David said, no, for I will not give anything to the Lord that doesn’t cost me something I’ve got to feel it It’s got to cost me Has to pinch a little bit Well, those in Macedonia, he’s saying, it really, really did Verse 7– but as you abound in everything in faith and speech and knowledge and all diligence, in your love for us, see that you abound in this grace, that is the grace of generous giving Also go to chapter 9, which covers the same topic Verse 6– but this I say, he who sows

sparingly will also reap sparingly He who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly nor of necessity, for God loves a cheerful, literally hilarious, giver And God is able to make all grace abound toward you that you always, having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work In other words, you won’t be able to out give God God will give back to you so that you can be generous with future projects as well Now, I remember when we first started our Bible study in the Lakes Apartments, and somebody said, Skip, this is costing money to rent this facility Who’s paying for it? I said, I am I’m paying for it personally And they said, what about the coffee? I said, well, I brought a coffee maker, and I’m buying the coffee, and different people will make the cookies And they said, well, do something to collect money to defray the cost of the apartment complex meeting area, as well as the coffee and the cookies So I said, OK, so I announced, one night, in the back is a Folgers coffee can I don’t know why Folgers, but I see that red can with that lid and the slit in it That’s what we use I said, there’s a coffee can in the back If you want to throw in some money to keep the lights on in this little clubhouse and give coffee, great, we’ll do it Then I remember, when we had grown to about 135 to 145, 150 people, we couldn’t fit anymore in that little meeting room We announced a Sunday morning at the nearby theater I don’t know if any of you go back that far But when it was time to think about the offering, one of the volunteers said, now are you going to take a formal offering, like you go down the aisle for Sunday morning? Because we have to– you got to rent the theater now as well as the apartment complex I said, no, we’ve used a coffee can, and that’s worked so far This is just how I was thinking And he said, well, man, if there’s a big crowd, one coffee can, that’s– that’ll be a long line You’re going to make it hard for people to give I said, OK, let’s put two coffee cans Let’s put one on this side, one on that side So that’s how we started, just two Folgers coffee cans, one on each side of the entrance and exit to the theater And I remember a pastor, dear brother– loved him He’s now with the Lord In town, he pastored a Baptist church He heard about what I was doing, and he put his arm on my shoulder He found me, and he goes, Skip, you’re doing it all wrong You’ll never succeed by taking an offering with a coffee can You need to install a pledge system, where you get people to pledge what they’re giving’s going to be for the year so that you can set up a budget I said, I don’t know anything about that I still really don’t know much about that But I said, no, no, God’s been faithful with the coffee can, and so we’ll be faithful with two coffee cans If I need to put three coffee cans, I’m up for that We’ll expand Maybe three or four of them When we left there and got into a real building like this one, we just sort of kept the coffee can concept That’s what the boxes are around You notice that we don’t take a formal offering We do receive your offering, and we suggest that you give generously But we do it by letting you know where they are, and it’s between you and the Lord You give as the Lord purposes in your heart, and God is able to make all grace abound toward you It’s good to be reminded of generosity because, typically, in any congregation, there’s a few people who are generous, and a large amount who don’t give much thought about it They just receive They just take in, but they don’t– they’re not really a part of it in any way, even financially In fact, I would say some congregations have a disease I call it cirrhosis of the giver It’s a strange disease, and the symptoms are, when it is time to give, the hand, as it goes to the wallet or the purse, becomes paralyzed It just can’t function It tries, but it’s just– something holds it back And then that hand gets released when it’s time for them to buy something for themselves or a new item comes out or a new movie comes out Suddenly, they’re free to do it So Paul just gives great, great advice here, biblical advice

Let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly nor of necessity, for God loves a cheerful giver Don’t be a sad giver Don’t be a mad giver Be a glad giver Go over to chapter 10 verse 1 We come to the last, the final swath of this book, and that is a vindication Chapters 10 to 12, Paul’s apostolic feathers are ruffled He has to defend himself He does it quite laboriously in these chapters Now, I Paul, myself, am pleading with you, verse 1, by the meekness and gentleness of Christ, who in the presence, am lowly among you, but being absent and bold toward you But I beg you that, when I am present, I may not be bold with that confidence by which I intend to be bold against some, who think of us as if we walked according to the flesh Go down to verse 8 For even if I should boast somewhat more about our authority, which the Lord has– the Lord gave us for edification, and not for your destruction, I shall not be ashamed If I have to take you on one on one, I’ll do it If I have to take you on the whole group, I’m ready to do it So quite a jostling of emotions in this book Lest I– verse 9, lest I seem to terrify you by letters Look at verse 10 For his letters, they say, are weighty and powerful, but his bodily presence is weak, and his speech is contemptible Here was the rumor Paul is big and bold and bad when he writes letters, but get him up close, and he’s a weakling He won’t be bold up front He’s very, very timid Paul says, really? I’m ready to go at it, and I’ll have some words for you guys when I see you there next time, especially those false apostles Now, it says– it mentions his bodily appearance His bodily appearance is weak and contemptible We don’t exactly know what Paul the Apostle looked like I’ve seen pictures of it I’ve seen paintings I’ve seen Rembrandts– stately, magnificent, kind of mid height to even tall, commanding presence There’s only one source that we have as to the physical description of Paul the Apostle It’s an apocryphal source It is known as the Acts of Paul and Thecla, and there’s an account of Paul’s physical appearance, the only one we have in history May be accurate, may be false, but here it is– a man of little stature, [IN A BAD ACCENT] a wee li’l man [NORMAL TONE] Thin haired upon the head Crooked in the legs Of good state of body with eyebrows joining I just blew your whole view– Paul the unibrow And nose somewhat hooked Short, bald, unibrow, hooked nose, but full of grace, for sometimes, he appeared like a man, and sometimes he had the face of an angel What’s interesting about these accusations against Paul is they do not hesitate to do what they accuse him of doing They poke fun at him from afar They’re very bold from afar Paul says, I’m coming to meet you We’ll have our words then If you go over to chapter 11 verse 5– for I consider that I am not at all inferior to the most imminent apostles, even though I am untrained in speech You had not a knowledge, but we have been thoroughly manifested among you in all things He talks about his conduct, talks about his suffering down in verses 22 and 23 I’m going to take you to chapter 12 He says, it is doubtless not profitable for me to boast He’s still vindicating his apostleship I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord Remember, he had quite a few of those– Damascus road, a vision A vision at Troas– go to Macedonia and help He had a vision in Corinth when the Lord said, speak, don’t hold your speech I have many people in the city He had a vision in Jerusalem Jesus appeared to him and said, you’re going to go all the way to Rome and give a testimony to me And also, he had a vision while he was on that boat on the way to Rome in the storm Here’s another one I know a man in Christ– verse 2– who 14 years ago– whether in the body, I do not know; whether out of the body, I do not know

God knows such a one was caught up into the third heaven Paul, I believe, is speaking about himself He is using a rabbinical style of writing and speaks of himself in the third person Very, very common He says, and I know such a man– whether in the body or out of the body, I do not know Whether I was dead or alive during that time, I couldn’t tell How he was caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which is not lawful for a man to utter Of such a one, I will boast– in other words, I’m the guy– yet I, myself, will not boast except in my infirmities It is believed that, when he was at Lystra, and they stoned him almost to death, that it caused an eye problem that he suffered with the rest of his life, because he had to write with large letters He had of some sort of a blindness He had an inability to focus Some speculate that, because of that altercation, that caused problems with his eyes, and some say it was epilepsy There’s a number of things people say was the thorn in the flesh I have no idea what it was, but it was my guess, this eye problem that was because of that altercation at Lystra I’m going to skip a portion because the last section from Chapter 12 verse 13 on are concluding remarks I’m going to take you to chapter 13 verse 10 We’ll close it Therefore, I write these things being absent, lest being present, I should use sharpness according to the authority which the Lord has given me for edification and not for destruction Finally, brethren, farewell Become complete What an interesting exhortation “Become complete.” One translation might be, grow up, mature, complete your course in the Lord Become complete Be of good comfort Be of one mind Live in peace, and the God of love and peace will be with you Greet one another with a holy kiss Now, Paul says that at the end of I Corinthians, the end of II Corinthians, the end of I Thessalonians, and the apostle Peter also says it in one of his letters So four times in the New Testament, Peter and Paul say, “greet one another with a holy kiss.” I get questions about that all the time It’s quite simple It was culturally appropriate, when you greet somebody, to greet them by kissing them on the cheek, then on the other cheek, and then typically on the first cheek again If you go to the Middle East, that’s exactly what they still do to this day It was what the world did It’s what the culture did It’s what everyone did Paul is saying, take that from the pagan culture That’s the culturally appropriate greeting Take that and make it holy Do it with meaning Do it in the Lord Make it a holy kiss Now, I know some men who have looked at that, and they said, there’s an attractive girl next to me at church I want to give her a holy kiss The Bible says so What you’re thinking about, dude, is an unholy kiss The culturally appropriate manner today would be a handshake, a fist bump, or a hug So we’ll leave it at that All the Saints greet you The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all And you can say the last word Amen Father, thank you for a gleaning into the church life at Corinth, more than that, into the very heart of the apostle A man who said, look, I’ve struggled for years with trials and heartaches– I’ve been shipwrecked I’ve been beaten I’ve been imprisoned I’ve distressed, and I’ve been under pressure I’ve despaired of life And yet God was gracious, and I want to finish my course with joy And I want to pour my life out for individuals and for churches And, Father, I pray likewise that we would not be daunted by suffering, by trials, by hardships, by heartache, but that we would become complete We would become mature We would grow up in the faith in all things and persevere, so that we’ll have a testimony, when we are comforted by your spirit, to be able to tell people how we got through it, how we did it

That those, Lord, who have suffered loss, that those who have endured divorce, that those who have lost someone because of death or are dealing with chronic pain or a disease, would be able to share what secrets they have learned from your heart to build up the body of Christ In Jesus’ name, amen Let’s all stand to our feet [MUSIC PLAYING] We hope you enjoyed this message from Skip Heitzig of Calvary Church For more resources, visit CalvaryNM.church Thank you for joining us for this teaching from The Bible from 30,000 Feet