Monday, March 10, 2008
2 Corinthians 1:15-2:11 God Give Us Christian Men!
In this confidence, I planned to come to you first, so you could have a double benefit,
16 and to go on to Macedonia with your help, then come to you again from Macedonia and be given a start by you on my journey to Judea.
17 So when I planned this, was I irresponsible? Or what I plan, do I plan in a purely human way so that I say “Yes, yes” and “No, no” [simultaneously]?
18 As God is faithful, our message to you is not “Yes and no.”
19 For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was preached among you by us—by me and Silvanus and Timothy—did not become “Yes and no”; on the contrary, “Yes” has come about in Him.
20 For every one of God’s promises is “Yes” in Him. Therefore the “• Amen” is also through Him for God’s glory through us.
21 Now the One who confirms us with you in Christ, and has anointed us, is God;
22 He has also sealed us and given us the Spirit as a down payment in our hearts.
23 I call on God as a witness against me: it was to spare you that I did not come to Corinth.
24 Not that we have control of your faith, but we are workers with you for your joy, because you stand by faith.
Gutlessness in the church.
One of the things that annoys many men about Christianity is that the Lord Jesus Christ is perceived as a feminine style figure. Obviously He wasn’t a feminine style figure. He was courageous in His teaching, in His convictions and in His determination to go to the cross for our sins. Many Christian men do not display the manliness that is evidenced in courage of conviction.
As Gerald Harris says “We are much like the ostrich with our heads buried in the sand going through some kind of denial hoping beyond hope that things aren’t as bad as they seem. Or we are like the possum that in the face of a predator just rolls over and “plays dead.” Or are we like the three-toed sloth that moves so slowly that he could hardly bring either contribution or consternation to anyone or anything?
As Vance Havner used to say, “We are many, but not much.”
may go to church, but the vast majority is seldom stirred to action. In church we sing our hymns (choruses), say our prayers, pay our tithes, hear the sermon, sit through the invitation, and go home and do nothing. The same ritual is repeated Sunday after Sunday.
It is practically impossible to find anyone with enough spiritual grit and gumption to confront sin, challenge the Pharisees, or drive the moneychangers out of the temple. We used to be concerned about things like drinking, smoking, chewing tobacco, playing cards, and dancing, but today it is nearly impossible to find more than a handful of people to register a modicum of concern over the killing of babies.
There is nothing more fundamental than the preservation of human life, but since 1973 we have allowed the abortionists to slaughter 45,000,000 babies. We are wimps because we have grown accustomed to this atrocity; and we have come to accept it as normal.
What if the earliest disciples of Jesus had been wimps? The message of the resurrection would have been silenced. The gospel would have never been preached. The church would have never been birthed. The New Testament would never have been written. There would be no Christian martyrs. No examples of faithfulness and sacrifice. No remnant of Christianity left for this present day. The cause of Christ would have disappeared into the dust of oblivion.
We must extricate ourselves from this malaise, the cove of complacency, the den of dormancy, this world of “wimpiness.” “
1 Cor 16: 13 Be alert, stand firm in the faith, be brave and strong.
The Christian life is not an easy milk sop style life. It does require of Christian men a manliness that faces up to some of the great challenges of life. One of those challenges is to be able to speak with conviction and strength at times when it is necessary.
Rudyard Kipling noted this strength of resolve in his poem “If”
If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you
But make allowance for their doubting too,
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise:…..
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on!"
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings--nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much,
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And--which is more--you'll be a Man, my son!
Courage, Confidence, Commitment, Convictions, Constancy. Yes those are marks of Christian manliness.
The apostle Paul is an example of Christian manliness.
He has to face up to difficulties in the Corinthian church. He has faced up t these difficulties a few times and in a few different ways. He has addressed a moral problem there. He has addressed selfishness that was dominating the life of that church. He ahs addressed false teachers insinuating false doctrines, he has visited them on an occasion prior to this letter and directly confronted those who would desired pre-eminence and power in the church. He has objected to their threats and their destructive lies. And in many ways he has displayed a manliness in Courage, Confidence commitment Convictions and constancy.
The situation that confronts the Apostle Paul is the slander and mudslinging that some power mongers in Corinth were hurling at Paul. It was a problem that was not going away.
Paul is going to demonstrate that the charges against him were false, not by actively defending every criticism or charge these people make against him, but by elevating the Lord Himself, and indicating that one who is in communion with the triune God will have characteristics different from those that these folks accuse him. In fact it is his accusers that do not demonstrate the characteristics of a man in Christ. As Paul handles the criticism of this small pressure group that had so affected the Corinthian church, Paul highlights for us the essential Confidence you and have in the Lord, and how that relationship with the Lord, worked by the Lord Himself, works out into our characters.
Others have expressed this same Convictional behaviour of Confidence, Commitment and constancy that is courageous: People like Martin Luther, who withstood the pressure of Popes and prelates and Princes for the sake of the gospel.
Is the Lord in all your thoughts? Do you trust yourself to Him alone. Are you only interested in His glory? If you are, you will feel as Martin Luther:
A mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing;
Our helper He, amid the flood of mortal ills prevailing:
For still our ancient foe doth seek to work us woe;
His craft and power are great, and, armed with cruel hate, On earth is not his equal.
Did we in our own strength confide, our striving would be losing;
Were not the right Man on our side, the Man of God’s own choosing:
Dost ask who that may be? Christ Jesus, it is He;
Lord Sabaoth, His Name, from age to age the same, And He must win the battle.
And though this world, with devils filled, should threaten to undo us,
We will not fear, for God hath willed His truth to triumph through us:
The Prince of Darkness grim, we tremble not for him;
His rage we can endure, for lo, his doom is sure, One little word shall fell him.
That word above all earthly powers, no thanks to them, abideth;
The Spirit and the gifts are ours through Him Who with us sideth:
Let goods and kindred go, this mortal life also;
The body they may kill: God’s truth abideth still, His kingdom is forever.
Let goods and kindred go, this mortal life also;
You see, there is no guarantee of winning in worldly terms against Satan and his people. You may have to let “goods and kindred go” You may not come out smelling like a rose here on earth. But this earth is not the whole deal. Our perspective is the eternal perspective. And who cares whether you come out smelling like a rose, just so long as the Lord Jesus Christ is heard and seen in your life. That’s all that matters.
People like Adoniram Judson who went to Burma and spent a lot of time in prison to bring the gospel to the Burmese people. He lost all for the sake of the gospel. His convictions were deep and lasting.
He demonstrated the same Convictional behaviour of Confidence, Commitment and constancy that is courageous.
People like Jeff and Jo Shepley who have gone out to a place they knew not for the sake of the gospel.
People like you.
1. You Can Be Confident
God Is Faithful To His Promises
One of the most popular 20th century hymns is "Great is Thy Faithfulness" written by Thomas Obediah Chisholm who died in 1960.
"God is faithful," our text says, and Thomas Chisholm sings, "Great is Thy faithfulness,"
You can be Confident because you know that God is faithful.
Sometimes our work for the Lord is like stepping out over a huge gap, just trusting there is something beneath you to support you. God is Faithful to His Promises:
He is the unlying God. Titus 1:2 in the hope of eternal life that God, who cannot lie, promised before time began,
He was the unlying God of the Old Testament Numbers 23: 18 Balaam proclaimed his poem: Balak, get up and listen; son of Zippor, pay attention to what I say! 19 God is not a man who lies, or a son of man who changes His mind. Does He speak and not act, or promise and not fulfill? 20 I have indeed received [a command]to bless; since He has blessed, I cannot change it.
68 You are good, and You do what is good; teach me Your statutes.
Psalm 119:86 All Your commands are true;
140 Your word is completely pure, and Your servant loves it.
151 You are near, Lord, and all Your commands are true
160 The entirety of Your word is truth, and all Your righteous judgments endure forever.
God Is Faithful To His People
Psalm 119:89 Lord, Your word is forever; it is firmly fixed in heaven.
90 Your faithfulness is for all generations;
Psalm 119: 28 I am weary from grief; strengthen me through Your word
Hebrews 13:5 for He Himself has said, I will never leave you or forsake you. 6 Therefore, we may boldly say: The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?
We can be Confident
161 Princes have persecuted me without cause, but my heart fears [only]Your word.
165 Abundant peace belongs to those who love Your instruction; nothing makes them stumble.
168 I obey Your precepts and decrees, for all my ways are before You.
2. You Can Be Committed
A. Faith Is The Echoing Response To The Faithfulness Of God
Alan Redpath wrote "From that moment when a man says "amen" to the Lord in these matters, his life is to be gripped constantly by the reality of the promises of the Word of God. That is one thing that I believe the Christian church lacks today-a grip of eternal truth upon our Souls-I" so that when God says, "Thou shalt not," something rises in us that : says, "Why?" When God forbids a certain course of action, strangely . enough Satan can come along and persuade us that a course of action contrary to the teaching of Scripture may be completely right. I grieve in the instance of a Christian who can placate himself (or herself) that It IS right to marry a non-Christian and convince himself that it is right in order that he might satisfy; the loneliness of his heart, and convince himself that that kind of thing is permissible to a child of God. Satan does that today to the people of God.
Have you said "amen" to the Lord in your soul? I believe that God waits for everyone of His children to have a day when they crash! Have you had your crash? That crash is not something emotional, nor is it a moral breakdown; it is the moment when from the depths of your soul there’s an "amen" to all the Will of God; And heaven resounds With rejoicing because It has heard the amen to His pardon, the "amen" to His standards, no matter how narrow~ the world may think they are. By the grace of God, HIS standard IS to be our standard and therefore to Him we say ·'amen". Has that happened in you; heart? If so, observe the inevitable spiritual outcome of that great moment in life: the communication of his character."
B. Faithfulness Is The Enduring Response To The Faithfulness Of God
Paul's argument is simply this: How can I, with such a message burning in my soul, ever be guilty of fickleness? Surely the message must make the messenger like it. Surely communion With a faithful God whose promises are "yea" must make a man faithful in all other relationships. As I have said, for a man to be a Christian and a double-dealer is an utter impossibility. Why? Because God, whose promises are "yea" in Christ and who hears the "amen" of our hearts, thereupon without delay-at that moment, instantaneously communicates His character to make us stable.
3. You Can Be Consistent
A. You Are confirmed Notice Paul's precious words in the two closing verses: underline them, and test your Christian life by them: establish, anointed, seal, earnest. He establishes us in Christ; that is to say, the fixity With which the Lord Jesus set His face towards Jerusalem, the constant and tenacious purpose of obedience to His Father’s will-:-that becomes a part of my life, too. Days of broken promises and hesitancy of obedience become less frequent, for He establishes us.
B. You Are anointed How does He do it? He does it by the anointing of the Spirit.
John says" ... ye have an unction from the Holy One ... " (I John 2: 20), and the man and the woman who have said "amen" in happy, glad abandonment to the will and Word of God have received this. The anointing of the Holy Ghost which enabled. Jesus to obey HIS Father in heaven unswervingly IS the same anointing of the Holy Spirit that has come upon the child of God who has said "amen" to all God's will. It is Christ in us, and only Christ in us by the anointing of His Spirit, who can deal with the fickleness of our nature and the wandering of our hearts, and bind those wandering hearts to Him.
C. You Are Sealed Having anointed us, see what He does: He seals what He anoints.
The seal impresses its likeness upon everything it touches. So a man sealed with the Spirit is made strong with the strength of Christ, wise with the wisdom of Christ, gracious with the gentleness of Christ, holy with the purity of Christ. Sealed! And all these are ..... marks of His divine ownership, the mark of the moment when God raises the flag of heaven over the territory of the soul and seals it with the Spirit.
If every inward profession of faith is matched with an outward righteousness of life, then we make it plain that truly we are genuinely His. So we have the earnest of the Spirit, the down payment which guarantees-with evidences that are unmistakable in a man who is living a life that is faithful-that he will one day see His lovely face. And there is no such guarantee in my Bible for any other kind of life.
Thus Paul brings all these great principles to bear in answering a simple charge-"Paul, you broke your promise! Paul, we cannot trust you! Paul, you are completely fickle!" To all of which he tells them that he uses the greatest principles of life to direct his conduct in the smallest detail, and therefore fickleness is impossible.
So let our lips and lives express The holy gospel we profess;
So let our works and virtues shine, To prove the doctrine all divine.
Thus shall we best proclaim abroad The honours of our Saviour God, When His salvation reigns within, And grace subdues the pow'r of sin.
Our flesh and sense must be denied, Passion and envy, lust and pride;
'While justice, ternp'rance, truth and love, Our inward piety approve.
4. You Can Be Convictional
In 1972, Hal Lindsey wrote a book that would sell over a million copies. It is called, Satan Is Alive And Well On Planet Earth. It certainly struck a cord in our culture, and it sold to a wide audience of Christians and non-Christians alike.
There is no doubt that we are engaged in a struggle between good and evil. All you need to do to confirm this is to read the daily news. The pages of our papers and the screens of our televisions are filled daily with graphic accounts of violence and human depravity of every horrendous kind. Why is this true? What is wrong?
I spoke with a pastor on Friday who told me of his despair for Christianity here in Australia when so many are giving away their Christian convictions that about God’s standards of morality in our society. We discussed the pervasive permeating influence of the media upon our Christian values. Certainly if the Lord does not work mightily we all can be in despair.
We are told in 2Corinthians 2:11 that we can be aware of the schemes of the devil. The devil has an MO (Modus Operandi) which has been the same since the beginning of time. We can become aware of how he works and how we can combat his activities in our lives.
Paul had heard of trouble and made a "painful visit."
The matter didn't clear up and he wrote a "painful letter."
What was the trouble?
A Man was messing with his step-mother (1 Corinthians 5) Certainly this was painful, but 1 Corinthians doesn't fit being a "painful letter" written with tears.
Also, note that in 2:10 Paul casually says, "if there was anything to forgive," ..this indicates that the Corinthians themselves had mistreated the apostle Paul.
It appears that the man who was caught in immorality, whom the church turned a blind eye to, and who behaved so brazenly, also tried to undermine the Apostle Paul. He had some friends. They put their heads together. They figured out that they could get a bit of vengeance on Paul. They could white ant his credibility with the Corinthians, after all, he was only a preacher, he would be gone in a few years, and these guys were the ones who paid the bills for the church, or so the reasoning probably went.
Paul’s stern letter led church to rebuke the man.
Pain is highlighted throughout this episode.
Paul felt pain, the man caused pain.
Paul wanted to avoid further pain, so he delayed his visit to the Corinthians, so that they would have time to repent. And they did.
The Corinthian church responded with grief. 2:2
The grief resulted in "godly sorrow." 7:9-11
The Godly sorrow results in repentance.
It is sorrow with a purpose. Everyone in Corinth changed their direction.
The church got serious about its disunity. They became indignant and disciplined the man. And of all things, the man changed his attitude and actions.
Do you remember Cliff Young, the 62 year old potato farmer, who dressed in boots and galoshes, Shuffling along in the652 mile ultra-marathon run from Sydney to Melbourne (875 km), outstripped the other 10 youthful competitors? How did he have the resilience to keep on going?
At the commencement of the race, I remember Mike Willassee interviewing him, and the embarrassment of the officials who wanted him removed from the race.
His age, his dress, his shuffling gait, were all an embarrassment.
He set the world record, and beat the previous world record by 9 hours.
Reporters mobbed him.. knapsack.. lived on pumpkin seeds and water.
Nobody told Cliff that you could stop along the way and sleep.
He shuffled his way through history because he never slept and became a National hero. All theology is practical. Want you are going through no matter how they are beating on you.. let us run with endurance the race set before us let us keep our eyes on Jesus. Hebrews 12
He is the yea and Amen. As we focus upon Him we can have integrity of Character. We can have confidence in difficult circumstances, we can progress towards the mark. You can live a Consistent Christian life, and you can be convictional in your stands for the Lord.