Sunday, May 31, 2015

Nothing More Truthful

2 Corinthians 11:4
For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him.

I understand that, among those who count themselves scholars, there is debate as to how to interpret this passage. I can't see the problem. Paul is speaking about preachers of false doctrine and says of them, if they can present something more truthful than he gave them, they would do well to receive it.

The thing is, there is nothing more truthful. 

I find here a fact that every Christian ought to take seriously; there are those who 
·       Preach another Jesus 
·       Have another spirit and
·       Represent another gospel 
In the book of Galatians he will say they are accursed. 

·       Not every Jesus preached is the Jesus of the Bible.
·       Not every spirit that influences souls is the Holy Spirit of God.
·       Not every message of good news is the power of God unto salvation. 

Therefore we must take heed that we do not accept any message other than that which is plainly given to us in the Bible. 

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Authority for Edification

2 Corinthians 10:8 KJV
For though I should boast somewhat more of our authority, which the Lord hath given us for edification, and not for your destruction, I should not be ashamed:

There is no question that Paul had authority (though it was constantly questioned in his day). Paul had pronounced judgments that had come to pass, healed those who were sick or infirmed, organized churches in extraordinary circumstances and preached the Gospel so that souls had been saved. Truly, the world had been turned upside down through the ministry of Paul and his team.

Paul was not in any way reticent to assume his authority or to claim it before others. But here Apostle Paul teaches a truth that preachers must keep in the forefront of their minds; our authority is for edification and not destruction. Our assignment, our commission is one for the benefit of others. We do not bear a carnal sword. Our authority is entirely intended for the advancement of souls.
·       It is an authority to preach the Gospel so that the lost are saved
·       It is an authority to teach the simple to be wise
·       It is an authority to train others in the ministry of the Word of God
·       It is an authority to strengthen churches
and even when the authority to discipline is exercised

·       It is for the purpose of the wayward's restoration and not loss.

Friday, May 29, 2015

The Other Blessings of Giving

2 Corinthians 9:12-14 KJV
For the administration of this service not only supplieth the want of the saints, but is abundant also by many thanksgivings unto God;
Whiles by the experiment of this ministration they glorify God for your professed subjection unto the gospel of Christ, and for your liberal distribution unto them, and unto all men;
And by their prayer for you, which long after you for the exceeding grace of God in you.

The apostle wants believers to give preparedly, bountifully and cheerfully. He had boasted about this congregation's generosity but did two things to improve what that generosity would produce:
·       He wrote this letter
·       He sent brethren ahead to prepare the offering "beforehand"

One part of his exhortation to give was to point out that there are blessings to our gifts other than (and I would insist greater than) the blessing of supplying the needs of others. Some of those benefits are:
The many thanksgivings to God they motivate
As one who has, for the past thirty years, lived of the generous gifts of God’s people as I have preached the Word of God I can attest that those who live off the Gospel never take for granted those gifts that provide for them. Every gift is a cause for us to give thanks God.

The rejoicing (toward God) your efforts to further the gospel inspire
That God has provided such people as those who give; that there are people who will give beyond themselves for the sake of the Gospel is heartwarming to us. We are thankful, but more than thankful, awestruck at the work of God in the hearts of men and women.

The prayers to God these who have benefitted from your gifts now offer to God for you
We who preach the Gospel and live off the Gospel receive those gifts thankfully. We in turn pray fervently for those who God has used to provide for us.

The affection for that that have been generated as a result of your generosity
I have more than thirty years worth of encounters with the generosity of people toward us.
·       People who gave us our first building to preach the gospel in.
·       People who sent gifts to us who had never met us, but who had only heard of our ministry. People who gave when I knew they had little to give.
·       People who were thrilled when God gave to them an amount that allowed them to give a large sum to the work of God.
·       People who were faithful givers week after week, month after month and year after year.
I have great affections and fond memories of those people.

No question that the generous and abundant gifts of the people of God for the ministry meets a very practical need. But I believe that is merely the foundational benefit of cheerful/faithful giving.  

Thursday, May 28, 2015

The Product of Affliction

2 Corinthians 8:2 KJV
How that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality.

Leaping out of this page are the adjectives/superlatives the apostle pours into the text:
·       Great trial
·       Abundance of joy
·       Deep poverty
·       Abounded unto riches
Nothing about this passage is average. The Macedonians knew nothing of the blasé sort of Christianity. Theirs was full on faith; mountain tops of brilliant victory accented by the darkest hues of valley life.

I came to view this passage as a sort of science experiment. Inside the petri dish filled with the “great trial of affliction”, were placed two elements:
·       Abundant joy and
·       Deep poverty

What would be the product?

Someone might speculate that the two negatives:
·       Great trial of affliction
·       Deep poverty
would overwhelm the joy and kill out any positive product.

Ah, but we must never forget from whence this joy springs. This is none other than the grace of God through Jesus Christ their Lord. In Christ there is not only joy but there is
·       peace and
·       hope and
·       love
Through Christ nothing is impossible. God, whose mercies are new every morning, can turn the most negative circumstances into good. Trial and afflictions no matter how great, poverty no matter how deep are but catalysts for the growth of greater faith.

The result?

The dish “abounded unto the riches of their liberality”. They gave not only what they could but beyond. They gave not only what was hoped for; they gave themselves.