Friday, August 15, 2008







FAITH is a resource to help you create a culture of evangelism in your church.

Teaching FAITH to your church is easy because FAITH is

• Short—takes only 12 sessions to complete

• Flexible—works in Sunday School, Bible studies, and small groups

• Conversational—makes sharing the gospel more natural

• Cultural—builds disciples who train others to share


Spark Evangelism Through Your Church!

FAITH Evangelism Equipper Training.

These days provide us God size opportunities to prepare ourselves for carrying out the Great Commission. You can be

equipped to go and teach others.

Our desire is to provide you with the tools for you to be prepared to go wherever God sends you to teach, tell, and mobilize people to go, tell, and teach all the things of Jesus.


Where Is FAITH?

Where Is FAITH?

Belmont Baptist Church, just off the Pacific Highway,

Thursday October 16th 9:30 am –4:00pm

And 17th 9:30am-12


Port Macquarrie Baptist Church Saturday October 18th 1-5 pm




Kogarah Bay Congregational Church,

Tuesday October 21st 1 pm –5:00pm

And workers session 7-9pm



Barry Cosper is the FAITH Trainer coming from Alabama for these special training the trainer sessions.

Your church can be using FAITH for as little as $11 per trainee.



2 Corinthians 10 The Conflict.


If you feel like you’ve had a bad day, listen to this. I think it will cheer you up. It is reputedly an actual statement, written by a bricklayer, and turned in to his company requesting sick leave.

“When I got to the building site I found that the hurricane had knocked off some bricks from around the top of the building. So I rigged up a beam with a pulley at the top of the building and hoisted up a couple of barrels full of bricks. “When I had fixed the damaged area, there were a lot of bricks left over. So, I placed the extra bricks in a barrel. “I then went to the bottom and began releasing the line. Unfortunately, the barrel of bricks was much heavier than I was and before I knew what was happening, the barrel started coming down, jerking me up. I decided to hang on since I was too far off the ground by then to jump, and halfway up I met the barrel of bricks coming down fast. I received a hard blow to my shoulder. “I then continued to the top of the building, banging my head against the beam and getting my fingers pinched and jammed in the pulley. When the barrel hit the ground hard it burst its bottom, allowing the bricks to spill out. “I was now heavier than the barrel. So, I started down again at high speed. Halfway down I met the barrel coming up fast and received several injuries to my shins. When I hit the ground I landed on the pile of spilled bricks, getting several painful cuts and deep bruises. “At this point I must have lost my presence of mind. I let go of the line. The barrel came down fast, giving me another blow on my head and putting me in the hospital. Therefore, I respectfully request sick leave.”

Now, that’s what I call a bad day! We all have bad days like that, regardless of who we are. And being a Christian doesn’t alter that fact. Christians have bad days just like everyone else. There are some today who are preaching a health and- wealth theology. One of the messages that comes through from them is that if you are really a Christian, if you are truly dedicated, hard times won’t come to you. Your life will be one long emotional high. You will enjoy endless health, boundless wealth and perpetual enthusiasm all your days.

Fiery Zorba the Greek was more nearly correct when he said, “Life is trouble. Only death is not. To be alive means to buckle your belt and look for trouble.”

Here in Corinthians 10 we see the heart of the apostle.

And it was troubled. He had experienced trouble from some at Corinth, whose whole ambition was to make trouble. Some troubled people see their whole purpose in life as being to bring trouble. Of course, they rarely perceive that the troubles that unsettle their souls are projected onto others.

Here like no other place do we see the heart of the Apostle.

Alexander Maclaren wrote of this passage, “These slanderers seem to have thought of Paul as if he ‘ warred according to flesh,’ and it is this charge, that he was actuated in his opposition to the evils in Corinth by selfish considerations and worldly interests, which seems to have set the Apostle on fire. In answer he pours out quick, indignant questionings, sharp irony, vehement self-vindication, passionate remonstrances, flashes of wrath, sudden jets of tenderness. What a position for him to have to say, ‘I am not a low schemer; I am not working for myself.’ Yet it is the common lot of all such men to be misread by little, crawling creatures who cannot believe in heroic self-forgetfulness.”

1. The Charges Used Against God’s People

a. They charged the Apostle Paul With Abusing His Pastoral Authority.

Inconsistent - timid/bold, when close/far. cf. 1 Cor 2:3

He lives by standards of this world. 10:2“He walked after the flesh” his motives were impure.

His threats are empty. They Charged Paul With Weakness He was weak when with them.

His ties to Jesus aren't that strong. 10:7

They challenged his authority over the church. 10:8

They said he was an unimpressive and lousy speaker. 10:10

He was bold and abusive

Actually he used his moral authority. He taught God’s Word. He acted in his own life with integrity.

He didn’t allow others to exercise supposed authority over others, rather he exposed those trying to do so. “by the meekness and gentleness of Christ.” Chrysostom : “It is from being meek, not from want of power, that he does not proceed against them: for Christ also did in like manner.”

Look at the strength of the opposition. We saw that the apostle shows us the reason why we have so many "strongholds," these heavy problems in life, these tough, difficult, knotty problems. It is because they are buttressed, or supported, first of all, by arguments, rationalizations, and reasonings which appear to be logical and thus give strength and solidity to evil. We saw that behind all this is the heart of the matter: human pride, pride which in its essence is independence against God; "that high thing," says Paul, "that exalts itself against the knowledge of God," {cf, 2 Cor 10:5}.

2. The Conflict In Which God’s People Are Engaged.

The Middle East. South Africa. All are battlegrounds where flesh-and-blood enemies clash daily with each other. We see the gunfire on the nightly news. We read of the casualties in the morning paper. We hear about the escalation of conflicts on the radio. And yet they are only metaphors of a far more literal battle. Finally, be strong in the Lord, and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armour of God, that you may be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. (Eph. 6:10-1 I)

The Greek word for "schemes" is methwdeia, from which we get our word method. It means "cunning arts, deceit, treachery." That's the devil's strategy. Consequently, our struggle is not in the physical realm hut in the spiritual.

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, hut against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. (v. 12)

This verse describes the hierarchy of the satanic army that is bent on our destruction. Demonic activity is both real and relentless. No "R and R" for Satan's army. These soldiers work around the clock, seven days a week, fifty-two weeks a year, year after year. All the more reason to put on the armour of Ephesians 6: 10 -17. All the more reason to be alert (l Pet. 5:8).

Another word-methodeia-is even more vivid.

In order that no advantage he taken of us by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his schemes. (2 Cor. 2: 11)

Here, the Greek word for "schemes" is not methwdeia but noeua.

It means "mind" and is so translated in 2 Corinthians ): 14,4:4, amI II :). Basically Paul is saying, "We're not ignorant to Satan's mind games or unaware of his mental attacks." The bloodless battle nobody notices is the mental battle.

Perhaps no book illustrates the schemes of Satan better than The Screwtape Letters. In imaginary correspondence between an older devil, Screwtape, and his ambitious young nephew, Wormwood, C. S. Lewis lifts the veil on the inner workings of Satan's dark hierarchy.

“Doubtless, like all young tempters, you are anxious to make too report spectacular wickedness. But do re­member, the only thing that matters is the extent to which you separate the man from the Enemy. It does not matter how small the sins are, provided that their cumulative effect is to edge the man away from the Light and out into the Nothing. Murder is no better than cards if cuds can do the trick. Indeed, the safest road to Hell is the gradual one-the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without mile­stones, without signposts. Your affectionate uncle Screwtape"

In biblical days cities were built with defences to protect them from enemy invasion. The primary structure, consequently, was the wall that surrounded the city. That's why, when Nehemiah returned to Jerusalem to rebuild the city, he started with the wall. That's why, when Jericho was invaded by the Israelites, the strategy centred around bringing down the walls.

To protect against attack, a wall with towers were constructed within the wall. During a siege, military intelligence would give commands from these observation towers to those on the wall itself.

That image is in Paul’s mind : he compares the spiritual battle.

The fortress is our mind. Speculations represent the wall built around that fortress. This is our overall mindset, our pattern of reasoning, our mental attitude. Not until the Lord penetrates that thick wall of defence can we attain victory over our thoughts. The lofty things of verse 5 constitute mental blocks that we have developed over the years. These keep us from true faith in Christ. These need to be brought down.

a. The Weapons That God’s People Use.

The first: "We destroy arguments and every proud obstacle to the knowledge of God." We pull down (literally), we destroy these two things: arguments and pride.

Second, we capture every thought to obey Jesus Christ. 10:5 Take every thought captive to Christ.

And thirdly we demolish arguments against God. 10:5

Well, what are these weapons? That is the major issue I want to face with you now.

What are these weapons? If they are not normal human plans, what are they?

If they do not include these approaches that are so common today, then what are they?

The first thing it does, the apostle says, is to destroy or pull down arguments and pride. But it does this, not by an overwhelming counterattack against these arguments, we have already established that, but, rather, by a process of undermining them. In other words, the gospel does not attack the reasonings of men directly. It is not simply a debate, or a dialogue even. The gospel is not an attempt to answer argument with counter-argument, or merely to expose the error in reasoning of those who offer false views of life. The gospel does not do that. Instead, it assaults the man behind the argument. That is the way it works. Instead of destroying the philosophy directly, the gospel captures the philosopher, and thus destroys the philosophy. It is very important that we see this plainly. The gospel undermines arguments by capturing the arguer; it reaches behind the argument to change the man. When that happens, you not only have ended the argument, but you have gained the man as a proponent for an entirely different view of life, changed him drastically and dramatically.

There are several ways in which this takes place. You can see it confirmed in life around you, and also illustrated very plainly and clearly in the Scriptures.

First, the gospel addresses itself to the vacuums created in the heart of man by the very arguments with which he supports his false ideas. In other words, it declares truth which lies beyond the reach of these reasonings, these arguments of men.

I was interested this week to read a review of C. S. Lewis' writings by a man who, though he was a Christian, was taking the position of an atheistic reviewer. In reviewing Lewis' book, Mere Christianity, which is his basic explanation of the Christian message, this reviewer said, from an atheistic point of view:

It is most disconcerting to have one's case against Christianity well in hand, only to find that Lewis doesn't give the answers we expect to refute.

Yes, it is disconcerting. It throws them, it puzzles them. They do not understand what you are doing. But this is the heart of the gospel. It reveals things men do not know, and yet which they sense are true. Thus it addresses itself to the vacuums in men's life which are not covered by their specious, reasoned arguments. when man lives without Christ, and, therefore without the knowledge of God, life for him has no depth at all. Life is shallow, lived in the surface. It may be broad, but it is shallow; it has no depth. This lack of depth is seen in human beings in several ways. It is revealed in restlessness, for instance, in not being captivated very long by anything, in becoming easily bored. Also a discontent, and an indifference to things of the spirit, is indicative of a lack of depth. Fear of solitude, or, paradoxically, a fear of crowds, is an indication of lack of depth.

It is to these hidden hungers that the gospel speaks. It makes marvelous appeal and reaches behind the arguments. T. S. Eliot's poem, The Rock, that expresses them very powerfully. He says,

All our knowledge brings us nearer to our ignorance, And all our ignorance brings us nearer to death,

But nearness to death no nearer to God. Where is the life we have lost in living?

First, the Christian presentation was rational. It was founded on fact. It did not set aside reason, nor did it overleap the need for intellectual understanding and grasp of the basis of these things, that they were founded in history.

Also, the resurrection of Jesus could never be explained except on terms of God at work doing unusual things, supernatural things.

The Gospel appeals to the basic need of man, his need of Forgiveness, his need of finding freedom from guilt and fear. This is where the gospel has power. It comes at man in an unexpected way, gets behind his carefully erected defenses, very much like the attack of the Nazis upon France in World War II. They simply ignored the Maginot Line that had been erected and went around it on an end sweep and came through the low countries into France. And so the gospel does, when properly presented. This is why it is impossible for men to erect adequate defenses against the gospel. We need to understand this. Do not try to assault the castle at its strongest point; there are also weak spots which can be broached and which make a man, even an intellectual, wide open to the assault of the gospel.

God has made everything beautiful in its time," {cf, Eccl 3:11a RSV}. Man always agrees with that. But then it goes on to say, "also he has put eternity into man's mind," {Eccl 3:11b RSV}. Man can never forget that. He is an eternal being, and he knows it. Despite the superficiality of his life there are cries from the depths of his heart to which the gospel speaks. This is the great proclamation we make. Here is One who entered the stream of humanity and who can do something about these desperate things that grip and hold our spirits in implacable bondage.

He breaks the power of cancelled sin He sets the prisoner free.

His blood can make the foulest clean His blood availed for me.

The gospel destroys arguments and humbles pride by presenting the indisputable record of changed lives. It produces righteousness in people, undeniably. Here is where the weapons of righteousness come in, "on the right hand and on the left," {2 Cor 6:7b KJV}. The gospel has demonstrated that it works, that it changes people. That record has power to break down arguments and to humble pride.

Dr. H. A. Ironside. Many of you know that for years he was a captain of the Salvation Army in San Francisco. "Look. You say that our message is not the truth, and that we're teaching people a lie, hoodwinking them, and bringing them into a religious delusion. Now I'd like to propose something to you: Next week let's meet here again on this spot. You bring with you an individual who has been, perhaps, a drunkard or a prostitute or has known evil in some open, flagrant form, but who has been changed by your message of atheism. Bring him with you, and let him bring testimony to the change that has come by believing the teachings of atheism. For everyone you bring, I'll bring a hundred with me who have been set free by the gospel of Jesus Christ." The man said. "I'm sorry, I can't meet you on those terms."

The Gospel destroys arguments and humbles pride because it is always accompanied by acts of true love. Here again is a secret of the power of the gospel. I mean to distinguish now between acts of true love and those acts of official help which are often offered through relief and welfare agencies, interracial programs, etc., in our day. "Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends," {John 15:13 RSV}.

The Gospel destroys arguments with the greatest weapon, prayer.

Lord Tennyson quite accurately observed, "More things are wrought by prayer than this world dreams of."

The Lord Jesus said, "Whatever you ask in my name, I will do it, that the Father might be glorified in

the Son," {John 14:13 RSV}."If you ask anything in my name, I will do it, in order that the Father might be glorified in the Son," {cf, John 14:14, 14:13 RSV}. He said, too, "If you have faith as a grain of mustard seed (not very much; just a tiny grain of faith) you shall ask what you will and it shall he done unto you," {cf, Matt 17:20, John 15:7}. Those are great words, great promises. "If you have faith..." It must be faith in response to what God has said, not merely a blind leap in the dark. The Apostle John says, "This is the confidence that we have in him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us ... we know that we have the petitions that we ask of him," {cf, 1 Jn 5:14-15}.

The Apostle Paul has many passages that deal with this matter of prayer. In Ephesians, he says, specifically, about warfare against the spiritual powers of darkness, "Pray at all times in the Spirit with all prayer and supplication," {Eph 6:18a RSV}. "The end of all things is at hand: therefore keep sane and sober unto prayer," {1 Pet 4:7 RSV}.

First of all then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all men, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life, godly and respectful in every way.{1 Tim 2:1-2 RSV} I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling. {1 Tim 2:8 RSV}Why the men? Well, because men ought to be more concerned about what is going on in their community, and more informed about it: therefore they are the ones that ought to be praying about these matters. They are the ones who need to see prayer is their first resort, and not their last resort. They are the ones who need to know that apart from the Lord they can do nothing. How often have I seen men’s schemes come to nothing. All because God resists the proud and lifts up the humble. Do you believe in the power of prayer? Do you believe that God will and does act directly in the affairs of men in response to the petitions of his people? Our problem is that we profess this, but in our deeds we deny it. We really believe, I think, that God is going to work it all out, no matter what, so there's no use praying. It is every thing which the pride of human reason exalts against the knowledge of God; i.e. that revelation of himself which God has made in the gospel. 1 Corinthians 3:18-20. The conflict to which the apostle here refers is that between truth and error, between the wisdom of God and the wisdom of the world. When the gospel was first proclaimed it found itself in conflict with all the forms of religion and philosophy then prevailing among men. To the wise of this world the gospel appeared as foolishness. It was, however, the wisdom and power of God. The conflict then begun has continued ever since, and is now as deadly as at any former period. Men of science and philosophers are as confident in their conclusions, and as much disposed to exalt themselves, or their opinions against the knowledge of God as ever. There is no doubt as to the issue of this contest. It is a contest between God and man, in which, of course, God must prevail. The instructive lesson which the apostle designs here to inculcate is, that this warfare must not be conducted on the part of the advocates of the gospel, with carnal weapons. They must not rely upon their own resources and attempt to overcome their enemies by argument. They must not become philosophers and turn the gospel into a philosophy. This would be to make it a human conflict on both sides. It would be human reason against human reason, the intellect of one man against the intellect of another man. Paul told the Corinthians in his former epistle, that he did not appear among them as a philosopher, but as a witness; he came not with the words of man’s wisdom; he did not rely for success on his powers of argument or of persuasion, but on the demonstration of the Spirit. The faith, which he labored to secure, was not to be founded on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God; not on arguments addressed to the understanding, but on the testimony of God. That testimony has the same effect which intuition has. It reveals the truth to the mind and conscience as self-evident; and therefore it cannot be resisted. A rationalistic Christian, a philosophizing theologian, therefore, lays aside the divine for the human, the wisdom of God for the wisdom of men, the infinite and infallible for the finite and fallible. The success of the gospel depends on its being presented, not as the word of man, but as the word of God; not as something to be proved, but as something to be believed. It was on this principle Paul acted, and hence he was in no degree intimidated by the number, the authority, the ability, or the learning of his opponents. He was confident that he could cast down all their proud imaginations, because he relied not on himself but on God whose messenger he was.

Alexander Maclaren wrote “Paul believed that the weapons of his warfare were mighty enough to cast down the strongest of all strongholds in which men shut themselves up against the humbling Gospel of salvation by the mercy of God. The weapons to which he thus trusted were the same to which Jesus pointed His disciples when, about to leave them, He said,’ When the Comforter is come He will convict the world of sin because they Believe not in Me.’

Paul’s way of kindling penitence in impenitent spirits was not to brandish over them the whips of law or to seek to shake souls with terror of any hell, still less was it to discourse with philosophic calm on the obligations of duty and the wisdom of virtuous living; his appeal to conscience was primarily the pressing on the heart of the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. When the heart is melted, the conscience will not long continue indurated. We cannot look lovingly and believingly at Jesus and then turn to look complacently on ourselves.”

Chrysostom: “And mark the absence of pride in him; for he said not, ‘we are mighty,’ but, “our weapons are mighty before God.” ‘We did not make them such, but God Himself.’ For because they were scourged, were persecuted, and suffered wrongs incurable without number, which things were proofs of weakness: to show the strength of God he says, “but they are mighty before God.” For this especially shows His strength, that by these things He gains the victory.”

b. The Wisdom That God’s People Understand

I did not come to argue with you, or to discuss philosophy. I did not come to bandy about the wisdom of the world, or to argue with you on the basis of one viewpoint versus another, or one human authority against another. I came to introduce a new element.

Each of us is capable of introducing into any situation in which we find ourselves, a totally new element, a radical difference. This is what I labor to get across to Christians who are immersed in a pessimistic fog of despair. There is a radical difference about the gospel; a unique element is introduced into life. Paul puts it in one phrase, it is the truth about the cross of Jesus Christ. The word of the cross, he says, "is the power of God unto salvation," {Rom 1:16 KJV}.

Its an issue of where you put your trust.

1 Corinthians 1:17 For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect. 18 For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent. 20 Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? 21 For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. 22 For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: 23 But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness; 24 But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.

1 Corinthians 2:1 And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. 2 For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified. 3 And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling. 4 And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: 5 That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.

Friends, you have all the weaponry you need to overcome the false ideas treasured in people’s minds and hearts. You can overcome these problems.

You have the weapon of prayer.

You have the weapon of the gospel.

You have the weapon of trust in a God who is able to break down the barriers.

You have the weapon of your own testimony to the fulfilment that you have found in the Lord Jesus Christ, and the power of God to overcome your sins.

This is what people want. There is an aching void in each human heart that cries out for this. The Lord wants to break down the foretresses in those who do not know the Saviour and bring them to the Lord. The Lord wants to break down the barriers in those who are false apostles or false disciples and bring them to know the Lord. Will you trust Him?

The issue of how people come to faith in Christ is brought here to our attention.

John’s gospel says lots about it.

Reasonable belief.

Belief built upon empiric observations.

Joh 10:38 εἰ δὲ ποιῶ, κἂν ἐμοὶ μὴ πιστεύητε, τοῖς ἔργοις πιστεύετε, ἵνα γνῶτε καὶ γινώσκητε ὅτι ἐν ἐμοὶ ὁ πατὴρ κἀγὼ ἐν τῷ πατρί.

But if I am doing them and you don’t believe Me, believe the works. This way you will know and understand that the Father is in Me and I in the Father.” HCSB

(AMP) But if I do them, even though you do not believe Me or have faith in Me, [at least] believe the works and have faith in what I do, in order that you may know and understand [clearly] that the Father is in Me, and I am in the Father [One with Him].

(ESV) but if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father."

(GNT-V) ει δε ποιω καν εμοι μη πιστευητε τοις εργοις Aπιστευετε TSBπιστευσατε ινα γνωτε και Aγινωσκητε TSBπιστευσητε οτι εν εμοι ο πατηρ καγω εν Aτω Aπατρι TSBαυτω

Joh 10:38 But if I do, though ye believe not me, believe the works: that ye may know, and believe, that the Father is in me, and I in him.

The difference in ancient manuscripts here indicates a preference of the textual critics for taking the more difficult reading as the more likely to be authentic reading. The more understandable reading.. “know and believe” is testified to by the T S and B Manuscripts where t represents Tischendorf, S represents stephanos, and B represents the Byzantine text.

A represents aleph or Siniaticus.

In layman’s’ terms, the text represented in the KJV translation reads “know and believe”.

However, the text represented in the AMP RSV, ESV, NASB, NIV HCSB translation reads “know and know”.

Robertsons’ Word pictures: (hina gnōte kai ginōskēte). Purpose clause with hina and the same verb ginōskō repeated in different tenses (first gnōte, the second ingressive aorist active subjunctive, that ye may come to know; then the present active subjunctive, “that ye may keep on knowing”).

Belief built upon testimonies.

John 5

31 “If I testify about Myself, My testimony is not valid. 32 There is Another who testifies about Me, and I know that the testimony He gives about Me is valid. 33 You have sent [messengers]to John, and he has testified to the truth. 34  I don’t receive man’s testimony, but I say these things so that you may be saved. 35 John was a burning and shining lamp, and for a time you were willing to enjoy his light. 36 “But I have a greater testimony than John’s because of the works that the Father has given Me to accomplish. These very works I am doing testify about Me that the Father has sent Me. 37 The Father who sent Me has Himself testified about Me. You have not heard His voice at any time, and you haven’t seen His form. 38 You don’t have His word living in you, because you don’t believe the One He sent. 39 You pore over the Scriptures because you think you have eternal life in them, yet they testify about Me. 40 And you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life.

John 10: 40 So He departed again across the Jordan to the place where John had been baptizing earlier, and He remained there. 41 Many came to Him and said, “John never did a sign, but everything John said about this man was true.” 42 And many believed in Him there.

Belief built upon previous beliefs -foundationalism.

John 5:45 Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father. Your accuser is Moses, on whom you have set your hope. 46 For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me, because he wrote about Me. 47 But if you don’t believe his writings, how will you believe My words?”

Wuest Studies in the Vocabulary of The Greek New Testament

The verb is pisteuo, the noun pistis, the adjective pistos. In classical Greek pisteuo meant to believe, trust, trust in, put faith in, rely upon a person or thing. In the passive voice it meant I am entrusted with a thing, have it committed to me. Pistis meant trust in others, faith. Pistos meant faithful, trusty, true, used of persons one believes or trusts.

"The N.T. conception of faith includes three main elements, mutually connected and requisite, though according to circumstances sometimes one and sometimes another may be more prominent, viz., (1) a fully convinced acknowledgement of the revelation of grace; (2) a self-surrendering fellowship (adhesion); and (3) a fully assured and unswerving trust (and with this at the same time hope) in the God of salvation or in Christ. None of these elements is wholly ignored by any of the N.T. writers." Thus, the word sometimes refers to an acknowledgment that a certain statement is true (Mt. 21:25), and sometimes to a definite commitment of one's soul into the keeping of another (John 5:24).

Theological Dictionary of the New testament

pisteúo to believe, trust,

pístis faith, trust,

pistós faithful, trusting,

pistóō to make someone trust,

ápistos faithless, unbelieving,

apistéō to disbelieve, be unfaithful,

apistía unfaithfulness, unbelief,

oligópistos of little faith,

oligopistía littleness of faith

A. Greek Usage.

I. Classical.

1. pistós, which is attested first, means a. “trusting” (also with the nuance of “obedient”) and b. “trustworthy,” i.e., faithful, reliable.

2. ápistos means a. “distrustful” and b. “untrustworthy,” “unreliable.”

3. pístis has the sense of a. “confidence,” “certainty,” “trust,” then b. “trustworthiness,” and c. “guarantee” or “assurance” in the sense of a pledge or oath with the two nuances of “trustworthiness” and “proof.”

4. pisteúō means “to trust” (also “to obey”), “to believe” (words), and in the passive “to enjoy confidence” (cf. the later sense “to confide in”).

III. Philo’s Concept of Faith.

For Philo faith is primarily belief in the one God and trust in his providence. Its real point is a turning from the transient world to the eternal God. This is a disposition of the soul rather than a response to the word. The influence of Platonism and Stoicism may be seen at these points. The relation to the people and its history is snapped, faith is oriented to pure being, which is finally accessible only to ecstasy, and in the last resort faith seems to be more a relation to the self than it is to God.

The pístis Group in the NT.

I. Formal Considerations.

1. pisteúō. Formally in the NT, as in Greek usage, pisteúō denotes reliance, trust, and belief. We find similar constructions to those in the Greek world. Semitic usage produces some new ones, e.g., with epí plus the dative or accusative, or with en. Distinctive is the use of pisteúein with eis, which has the new and strong sense of “believing in” and arises in the context of the church’s mission. Another fairly common sense of pisteúein is “to entrust or commit oneself” (cf. Luke 16:11; Jn. 2:24; also in the passive).

2. pístis. As in Greek, this word means “faithfulness” and more commonly (religious) “trust” or “faith,” usually in the absolute, but with eis, prós, epí, en, and also with an objective genitive.

3. pistós. This word may mean either “faithful” or “trusting.”

a. pisteúō as “to believe.” In the NT the group becomes a leading one to denote the relationship with God, partly on the OT basis and partly in connection with the Christian mission and its call for faith as a turning to God. The verb is often used for believing God’s word, e.g., Scripture (Jn. 2:22), the prophets (Acts 26:27), Moses (Jn. 5:46-47), or what God says through an angel (Luke 1:20) or the Baptist (Mark 11:31). Along these lines the NT says that the people should believe Jesus and his words (Jn. 3:34; 5:38).

b. pisteúō as “to obey.” Heb. 11 stresses that to believe is to obey, as in the OT Paul in Rom. 1:8; 1 Th. 1:8 (cf. Rom. 15:18; 16:19)shows, too, that believing means obeying. He speaks about the obedience of faith in Rom. 1:5, and cf. 10:3; 2 Cor. 9:13.

c. pisteúō as “to trust.” This sense is prominent where OT influence is strong, as in Heb. 11, and cf. Mark 5:36; Acts 3:16; 14:9. A connection with prayer emerges in Mark 11:22 Jesus replied to them, “Have faith in God.

Jms. 1:6. Paul describes Abraham’s faith as trust in God’s miracle-working power (Rom. 4:17ff.; cf. also 9:33; 10:11).

d. pisteúō as “to hope.” The relation between faith and hope is clear in Rom. 4:18 and Heb. 11:13. When hope is directed to what is invisible, it entails trust. Only faith, not sense, can perceive the heavenly reality and grasp the promised future (Heb. 11:1). When pístis is specifically faith in Christ, hope is mentioned separately, but such hope contains an element of believing confidence (1 Th. 1:3; 1 Cor. 13:13; 1 Pet. 1:21).

e. Faithfulness. The OT sense of “faithfulness” finds echoes in Heb. 12:1; 13:7; 2 Tim. 4:7; Rev. 2:13; Heb. 11:17; Jms. 1:2-3. This is the point for Paul, too, when he refers negatively to the apistía (“unfaithfulness”) of Israel in Rom. 3:3. In 1 Cor. 16:13, however, pístis is the faith to which one should be faithful.

. Specifically Christian Usage.

a. pístis as Acceptance of the Message. Especially when used with eis, pístis is saving acceptance of Christ’s work as proclaimed in the gospel. This includes believing, obeying, trusting, hoping, and being faithful, but it is primarily faith in Christ. For Gentiles, it means conversion to the one God who has brought salvation in and through his Son.

b. The Content of Faith. Paul states the content of faith in Rom. 10:9. It involves acknowledgment of the risen Christ. Faith in Christ means faith in his resurrection, and his resurrection implies his prior death for sin (1 Cor. 15:11; cf. Rom. 4:24; 1 Th. 4:14; Phil. 2:6ff.). Kerygma and faith always go together (cf. Acts 2:22ff.), and the reference is always to Christ and what he has done (cf. Jn. 20:31; 16:27; 14:10; 8:24; Rom. 6:8).

c. Faith as Personal Relation to Christ. Believing eis Christ involves a personal relation similar to the relation to God in the OT, although the NT tends to use different constructions for believing in God and in Christ. Acceptance of the gospel is acceptance of Christ as Lord, for Christ and salvation history cannot be severed. Faith accepts the existence of Christ and its significance for the believer. It rests on the message, but as faith in the message it is faith in the person whom the message mediates. The personal aspect comes out in Rom. 10:9, 14; Gal. 2:20; Phil. 1:29; 1 Pet. 1:8.

d. Believing. Faith may be acceptance of the message, as in Acts 20:21, or it may be continuation in believing, as in 1 Cor. 2:5. Since believing is dynamic, it may be weak or strong (Rom. 12:3; 14:1), it may grow (2 Cor. 10:15), it may endure (Col. 1:23), and there may also be references to its fullness (Acts 6:5), practice (1 Th. 1:3), and unity (Eph. 4:13).


Note the importance of belief and how belief changes in these verses.

John 11:15  And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, to the intent ye may believe; nevertheless let us go unto him.

John 11;25, 26 Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:
26 And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?

The Lord gives Martha a hint about what he was going to do by saying He is the resurrection.

Here believing is a moral imperative.

27 She saith unto him, Yea, Lord: I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world.

John 11:40 Jesus saith unto her, Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God?

Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me.
42 And I knew that thou hearest me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me. John 14:11  Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me: or else believe me for the very works' sake.

45 Then many of the Jews which came to Mary, and had seen the things which Jesus did, believed on him.

48 If we let him thus alone, all men will believe on him: and the Romans shall come and take away both our place and nation.

John 12: 9 Much people of the Jews therefore knew that he was there: and they came not for Jesus' sake only, but that they might see Lazarus also, whom he had raised from the dead.
10 But the chief priests consulted that they might put Lazarus also to death;
11 Because that by reason of him many of the Jews went away, and believed on Jesus.

37 But though he had done so many miracles before them, yet they believed not on him:
38 That the saying of Esaias the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spake, Lord, who hath believed our report? and to whom hath the arm of the Lord been revealed?
39 Therefore they could not believe, because that Esaias said again,
40 He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart; that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them.
41 These things said Esaias, when he saw his glory, and spake of him.

Joh 20:8 τότε οὖν εἰσῆλθεν καὶ ὁ ἄλλος μαθητὴς ὁ ἐλθὼν πρῶτος εἰς τὸ μνημεῖον, καὶ εἶδεν καὶ ἐπίστευσεν·

Joh 20:9 οὐδέπω γὰρ ᾔδεισαν τὴν γραφὴν ὅτι δεῖ αὐτὸν ἐκ νεκρῶν ἀναστῆναι.

Joh 20:25 ἔλεγον οὖν αὐτῷ οἱ ἄλλοι μαθηταί, Ἑωράκαμεν τὸν κύριον. ὁ δὲ εἶπεν αὐτοῖς, Ἐὰν μὴ ἴδω ἐν ταῖς χερσὶν αὐτοῦ τὸν τύπον τῶν ἥλων καὶ βάλω τὸν δάκτυλόν μου εἰς τὸν τύπον τῶν ἥλων καὶ βάλω μου τὴν χεῖρα εἰς τὴν πλευρὰν αὐτοῦ, οὐ μὴ πιστεύσω. Joh 20:27 εἶτα λέγει τῷ Θωμᾷ, Φέρε τὸν δάκτυλόν σου ὧδε καὶ ἴδε τὰς χεῖράς μου, καὶ φέρε τὴν χεῖρά σου καὶ βάλε εἰς τὴν πλευράν μου, καὶ μὴ γίνου ἄπιστος ἀλλὰ πιστός. Joh 20:28 ἀπεκρίθη Θωμᾶς καὶ εἶπεν αὐτῷ, Ὁ κύριός μου καὶ ὁ θεός μου. Joh 20:29 λέγει αὐτῷ ὁ Ἰησοῦς, Ὅτι ἑώρακάς με πεπίστευκασ; μακάριοι οἱ μὴ ἰδόντες καὶ πιστεύσαντες. Joh 20:30 Πολλὰ μὲν οὖν καὶ ἄλλα σημεῖα ἐποίησεν ὁ Ἰησοῦς ἐνώπιον τῶν μαθητῶν αὐτοῦ, ἃ οὐκ ἔστιν γεγραμμένα ἐν τῷ βιβλίῳ τούτῳ·

Joh 20:31 ταῦτα δὲ γέγραπται ἵνα πιστεύσητε ὅτι Ἰησοῦς ἐστιν ὁ Χριστὸς ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ θεοῦ, καὶ ἵνα πιστεύοντες ζωὴν ἔχητε ἐν τῷ ὀνόματι αὐτοῦ.

The Foundations for belief are many and varied:

There is observation.

There is personal knowledge of the character of Jesus.

There is the importance of miracles.

Miracles run counter to our epistemology of a universe that is a closed system, in which impersonal unchanging laws govern the environment. A miracle casts doubt upon the rigidity of these laws. Or they cast doubt about the person who does these miracles, as to His ability to work outside of these universal unchanging laws.

They are a statement of His authority.

In Mark’s gospel, (a) MARK 1: 21–28. JESUS’ AUTHORITY AS A TEACHER

The people were surprised at the method of Jesus’ teaching. He did not quote the thoughts of other Rabbis or teachers. His characteristic way of teaching was, ‘I say to you…’


At just a word this man was instantly healed. The Bible contains over 30 such incidents — the sick, blind, lame, lepers were healed. Mark’s Gospel contains many such examples of Jesus’ extraordinary authority:

• In a violent storm, he stood up in a boat and commanded the wind and waves to die down, and they obeyed.

• He healed demon-possessed people with a word.

• On three recorded occasions he raised up dead people — even Lazarus who had been dead four days .


Jesus said to the man: ‘Your sins are forgiven.’ The religious leaders rightly saw this as a claim to be equal with God. The rest of the New Testament tells us that Jesus is indeed equal with God as God’s Son — more than that, he is both God and man in the one person. So this is the picture we are building up. Jesus has come into God’s creation, God’s world, with the full authority of God. There is no part of the creation — animate, inanimate, human or spiritual — over which Jesus does not rule. As God in human form, he also forgives sins. However, there is one more area of Jesus’ authority we need to consider.


Jesus went to almost complete strangers and commanded them to leave their jobs and families and to follow him. As the Son of God, Jesus makes the same claim over your life and mine. He calls ordinary people like us to follow him. These four men did. Some whom Jesus called later refused to follow him. In the whole of creation Jesus’ authority is never resisted, except by the wills of human beings! God, however, commands us to submit to the authority of His Son.









The Lord Jesus seems to have held a correspondence theory of belief.

The miracles were not sufficient of themselves to validate His authenticity as Messiah.

Matthew 7: 15 “Beware of false prophets who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravaging wolves. 16 You’ll recognize them by their fruit. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes or figs from thistles? 17 In the same way, every good tree produces good fruit, but a bad tree produces bad fruit. 18 A good tree can’t produce bad fruit; neither can a bad tree produce good fruit. 19 Every tree that doesn’t produce good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 So you’ll recognize them by their fruit. 21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord!’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but [only]the one who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to Me, ‘Lord, Lord, didn’t we prophesy in Your name, drive out demons in Your name, and do many miracles in Your name?’ 23 Then I will announce to them, ‘I never knew you! Depart from Me, you lawbreakers!’

The Lord Jesus said the works I do testify of me John 14:10 Don’t you believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me? The words I speak to you I do not speak on My own. The Father who lives in Me does His works. 11 Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me. Otherwise, believe because of the works themselves.

Other elements also have validity in the formation of epistemic primitives concerning the validity and authenticity of Jesus’ Messiahship:

Personal manifestation

John 14: 23 Jesus answered, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word. My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him. 24 The one who doesn’t love Me will not keep My words. The word that you hear is not Mine but is from the Father who sent Me.

Personal deep inner conviction and instruction:
25 “I have spoken these things to you while I remain with you. 26 But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit—the Father will send Him in My name—will teach you all things and remind you of everything I have told you.

Correspondence of all these elements with the Old testament Prophecies concerning the Messiah.

Correspondence with the nature and being of God known by creation, known by inner revelation, and known by revelation, both indirect inspiration (scripture) and direct inspiration (convictional work of the Holy Spirit.)

This would indicate two aspects to knowing:

A web of epistemic primitives validating one another and becoming foundations upon which other authenticated and validated beliefs are built. The area of involvement is the intellectual life of the person, where the categories for belief are built up within the intellect.

And a supernatural revelation made directly by the Holy Spirit to the individual person.

This is understood under the terms regeneration (John 3), repentance (2 Tim 2:25), conviction (John 16) and drawing (John 6:37,44,45) This corresponds to the spiritual life, where new spiritual categories are introduced and developed within the spiritual faculties of the soul.

Paul likewise follows these same reasons to develop his own authenticity for being an apostle.

1. The intellectual categories are introduced.

Signs and Miracles: 2 Corinthians 12: 11 I have become a fool; you forced it on me. I ought to have been recommended by you, since I am in no way inferior to the “super-apostles,” even though I am nothing. 12 The signs of an apostle were performed among you in all endurance—not only signs but also wonders and miracles.

Authentic testimonies of others.

2 Corinthians 10:13 We, however, will not boast beyond measure, but according to the measure of the area [of ministry]that God has assigned to us, [which]reaches even to you.
14 For we are not overextending ourselves, as if we had not reached you, since we have come to you with the gospel of Christ.

2. Spiritual Revelations

2 Corinthians 12:1 It is necessary to boast; it is not helpful, but I will move on to visions and revelations of the Lord. 2 I know a man in Christ who was caught up into the third heaven 14 years ago. Whether he was in the body or out of the body, I don’t know; God knows.3 I know that this man—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows— 4 was caught up into paradise. He heard inexpressible words, which a man is not allowed to speak. 5 I will boast about this person, but not about myself, except of my weaknesses. 6 For if I want to boast, I will not be a fool, because I will be telling the truth. But I will spare you, so that no one can credit me with something beyond what he sees in me or hears from me, 7 especially because of the extraordinary revelations. Therefore, so that I would not exalt myself, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to torment me so I would not exalt myself.

The Corinthians were to understand that this web of epistemic primitives was to provide a foundation for validating and authenticating and so accepting the apostleship of Paul.

Faith, believing consists of the assent of the mind (the intellectual elements validating the truthfulness of the assertion to be believed) and the consent of the heart (where the heart is convicted of those things not readily appreciated or understood by the mind .. the heart has reasons the mind cannot comprehend… these are the spiritual aspects to belief and conversion worked immediately by the Holy Spirit of God.).


2 Corinthians 10:7-18 The Problem Of A Carnal Perspective.


There are two kinds of people described in this section, those who commend themselves and those whom the Lord commends. Both groups in Corinth were confident that they belonged to Christ (v.7), but one alone was. The first were a self-promotional crowd while the others were being promoted by the sovereign grace of God. The same two kinds of people are in this congregation today and these two categories alone, with everyone belonging to one class or the other. This is true for 'all people that on earth do dwell' - you are either commending yourselves, or you are commended by God.

"In what category am I? Do I belong to those who commend themselves to their fellow men and to God, or am I amongst those whom God himself commends to the angels of heaven?"

The apostle Paul is urging the Corinthian Baptist church to make some decisions about some people who had infiltrated their membership. These folks adopted worldly beliefs and patterns of thinking. What’s big is best. Strong personality is more important than truth. Charisma matters more than character.

10 For it is said, “His letters are weighty and powerful, but his physical presence is weak, and his public speaking is despicable.”

These people, to secure their own position, decided they needed to supersede Paul’s position, and they did this by criticising Paul’s letters Paul’s looks and Paul’s language. Verse 10.

Phillips “I know my critics say, "His letters are impressive and moving but his actual presence is feeble and his speaking beneath contempt."

There is a fundamental problem with Paul’s critics; they didn’t understand a spiritual ministry. They were carnal in their thinking. They were fleshly, worldly, in the way that they assessed ministry.

They didn’t understand what the Lord Jesus said about spiritual leadership:

Mark 10:35-45 Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee, approached Him and said, “Teacher, we want You to do something for us if we ask You.” 36 “What do you want Me to do for you?” He asked them. 37 They answered Him, “Allow us to sit at Your right and at Your left in Your glory.” 38 But Jesus said to them, “You don’t know what you’re asking. Are you able to drink the cup I drink or to be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with?” 39 “We are able,” they told Him. Jesus said to them, “You will drink the cup I drink, and you will be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with. 40 But to sit at My right or left is not Mine to give; instead, it is for those it has been prepared for.” 41 When the [other]10 [disciples]heard this, they began to be indignant with James and John. 42 Jesus called them over and said to them, “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles dominate them, and their men of high positions exercise power over them. 43 But it must not be like that among you. On the contrary, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 44 and whoever wants to be first among you must be a • slave to all. 45 For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life—a ransom for many.”

A Carnal Perspective Measures Character By Charisma

Those who commend themselves are too easily impressed by the natural talents of others. These men opposing Paul admired rhetoric and human eloquence (v.10): "Now that's true religion!" they said. "The orator, standing and declaiming till you get goose pimples! Poor old Paul..." Maybe the apostle's speaking amounted to nothing. Perhaps he didn't have the eloquence of a Peter or an Isaiah. Perhaps some complained because he didn’t write out his sermon in full manuscript? Or maybe these opponents whinged because he did use a manuscript when he spoke? We too have heard men who have surrendered much - a quality of directness and pointedness and verve and liveliness - because of the papers they read. Yet wherever and however Paul went and spoke to people many were converted to Christ, and then built up in the faith. Other details seem trifles in comparison with that. As the years have gone by we've become increasingly unimpressed with personalities who can strut their stuff, and hold an audience in the palm of their hands, and chat away with a big smile to a thousand people. We might think of a recent US President who strutted his stuff, and people admired him, but he was morally corrupt. People still admired him. Perhaps these people wanted someone like them, who would berate and abuse and stand over people. Perhaps these critics were wanting someone they could respect as a tyrant or someone sexy.

A Carnal Perspective Measures Fruitfulness By Favour

How favourable was Paul to the multitude? Men who commend themselves are very anxious to make a good impression. Like the Pharisees they are like vessels whose outside has been cleaned but inside are full of filth. They are hypocrites, wanting to create a good impression, refusing to face up to how God sees them. Those who commend themselves even take credit for what others have done. Paul was careful not to "go beyond our limits by boasting of work done by others" (v. 15). He repeated that concern, "We do not want to boast about work already done in another man's territory" (v. 17).

A Carnal Perspective Measures Ministry By Measures.

Did you notice what Paul says in 2 Cor 10: 12 For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.

The issue of comparing ourselves with others is always a very dangerous issue. The reason is that God has given many many different sorts of Pastors. There is the Pastor who is gifted by God with great pastoral counselling gifts. He may be a lousey teacher or a ousey preacher or a lousey visitor, but he sure is a good counsellor. Or there is the fellow who is a good preacher but lousey counsellor. Or the good teacher , who is not so great a preacher. Or the preacher who is no good at teaching. Or the very good leader who is no good at pastoral matters. We are all such a mix of gifts and ministries and personalities that it is impossible to evaluate or compare one against another. Each pastor or teacher or preacher is gifted with the ministry that God intends for him to exercise in the place where he is located. Therefore its inappropriate to compare one with another. Particularly since we cannot measure each man by our own size. Do you remember the story of Prometheus? Prometheus had a bed by which he measure the right height of every person he captured. If they were too tall for his bed, he cut off a bit here and a bit here to make them the right size. And if they were too short he stretched them on the bed until they were right the size. It didn’t work for Prometheus, and it will not work for you or I.

But comparison becomes important for these folks. Those who commend themselves put down others. They can't stand any competition. They are ungenerous in their evaluation of other people.

These folks criticised Paul’s letters These folks criticised Paul’s looks These folks criticised Paul’s language. Paul says of them that "when they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise" (v.12). This is the mark of the Pharisee.

“God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican" (Lk. 18:11).

How do you defend yourself against these sorts of criticisms?

The answer is you don’t. You look to what is really important in the apostle Paul’s life.

He was interested in the gospel

2 Cor 11:1 I wish you would put up with a little foolishness from me. Yes, do put up with me.
2 For I am jealous over you with a godly jealousy, because I have promised you in marriage to one husband—to present a pure virgin to Christ. 3 But I fear that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your minds may be corrupted from a complete and pure devotion to Christ. 4 For if a person comes and preaches another Jesus, whom we did not preach, or you receive a different spirit, which you had not received, or a different gospel, which you had not accepted, you put up with it splendidly!

For Paul, it was all about Christ.

It was preaching Jesus Christ as Lord.

2 Cor 4:5 For we are not proclaiming ourselves but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your slaves because of Jesus.

1 Cor 2:1 When I came to you, brothers, announcing the testimony of God to you, I did not come with brilliance of speech or wisdom. 2 For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.

He was keen to present the Lord Jesus Christ as the only Saviour and Lord. And he wanted everyone to know Him.

Paul was interested in marrying people to Christ.

This is why he was upset at the Corinthians. They were stopping him from getting on with the job.

"I would the precious time redeem, And longer live for this alone,
To spend and to be spent for them Who have not yet my Saviour known.
Fully on these my mission prove, And only breathe to breathe Thy love." (Charles Wesley) Wesley is passionately concerned to 'get to people with the gospel'. Those are Paul's actual words here: "we did get as far as you with the gospel of Christ" (v.14). Let's get to men and women by every legitimate biblical means with the gospel.

Paul was interested in keeping people married to Christ.

This is why he was upset at the Corinthians. They were tying his hands up trying to sort out their problems when he should have been getting on with the job. And his greatest distress was that some who started out ok with Christ, had wandered off away from Christ. And this upset him more than anything else. Gal 1: 6 I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: 7 Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. 8 But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. 9 As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed. 10 For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.

Paul was interested in extending the gospel to new regions.

Our hope is that, as your faith continues to grow, our area of activity among you will greatly expand, so that we can preach the gospel in regions beyond you" (vv.15&16). So often our Lord commends those servants whom, when the Lord returns, he finds busy, involved in Christ's work. He told them that the fields were white unto harvest, but the labourers were few, and that they should pray that the Lord of the harvest would send labourers into the harvest field. "Go into all the world!" he told them. There are 'regions beyond' says Paul in this well known phrase which gave birth to the title of a missionary society. There are unreached people. Many will be modest and humble people, but one young person you might contact could become another Spurgeon or another Whitefield. This is why he was upset at the Corinthians. They weren’t interested in what they should have been interested in.

Are we? Are we interested in Geoff and Jo Shepley’s work in PNG.

Are we interested in the Harrison’s work in Sh island?

Ask yourself today “Am I where God wants me to be?” 13, 14

We, however, will not boast beyond proper limits, but will confine our boasting to the field that God has assigned to us" (v.13). Then you see Paul speaks of not going "beyond our limits" (v.15), and of his own "area of activity" (v.15). So Paul was conscious that he had an assigned field of labour, and that that had certain limits, and it was a certain area of activity. He was sent to the Gentiles and so his field of labour was not Jerusalem. He left that to James. He didn't major in a ministry of mercy; he left that to the deacons. He didn't think of getting married and having children because he had a specialised area of activity as a church planter and evangelist and the pastor of new churches. He didn't build on another man's foundation or go into another man's territory. He was conscious of his own special calling and he stuck to it. It's a great theme of the apostles, especially to these excitable Corinthians. They wanted to neglect their duties and zoom off in all directions speaking about the gospel.

You have a field God has assigned to you, as a student, as a mother, as a deacon. You have some responsibility given to you in the church and that is your area of activity, and you give yourself to it without fail. That would make a tremendous contribution to the fellowship. How many men and women of God have been saved through the faithfulness of a Sunday School teacher a kids club worker or a brigade officer? I think of a fellow who as a child, went to a Vacation Bible School because he was invited by his friends. He began to attend the same church for the Sunday School. Each week one man in the congregation had the responsibility of driving the church bus and picking up the children for Sunday School. That man continued to do it year after year, and for over eight years he picked up teenager Alex and brought him to church. Week after week Alex attended morning Sunday School without any indication that he was believing the messages he was hearing. Finally, during his last year in High School, after being picked up for church over 400 times, he was converted. What if the man driving the bus had quit and there was no one else to drive it? What if he had given up after 395 times and claimed that that was pretty good record? What if the man had said, "This kid is going nowhere spiritually, why waste any more time on him?" He didn't say that. He got to the church bus at 8.30 a.m. sat in the driver's seat, started the engine and set off to get the kids - as he had done for so many years. In other words he stuck to the field God had assigned to him. If Alex hadn’t come to know the Lord, I would never have come to know the Lord. Alex was faithful as a Boys Brigade leader to keep after those kids on the fringe that would have dropped off into crime. He kept an eye out for me. And with years of persistence it paid off in my salvation.

Maybe your ministry is intercession, or perhaps you shyly say, "Well, I just can't help continuing to pray for some people." That's right. Those are your proper limits. Hang in there! One time George Mueller found himself praying for four or five of his friends. After many months, one of them came to the Lord. Ten years later, two others were converted. It took 25 years before the fourth man was saved. Mueller persevered in prayer until his death for the fifth friend, and throughout those 52 years he never gave up. It was after Mueller's funeral the last one was saved.

Don't give up! Think of William Carey, the father of modern missions. He waited seven years before he saw one Indian being converted. He said, "If, after my removal, anyone should think it is worth his while to write my life, I will give you a criterion by which you may judge of its correctness. If the writer give me credit for being a plodder, he will describe me justly=85I can plod. I can persevere in any definite pursuit." That is what Paul is speaking about here. Those commended by the Lord plod on in God’s Will.

Is God glorified in my ministry? 15-17

At the opening of a Christian school the glory and accolades were being given not to them man who had sacrificed so much financially and health wise to begin the school, but by the pastor of the church who had driven him to do it. I was concerned for this man who seemed so overlooked. John Howard was there, and there were many speeches, but this man seemed to be overlooked. Completely. Yet I knew he was the one that worked 22 hour days to make the school happen 7 days per week. I saw him and attempted to encourage him. He was cleaning out an area of garbage left by the folk that were there attending so that the program would flow smoothly. Oh as long as the Lord is glorified that’s all that matters.

Can the Lord commend the work?

"For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends" (v.18). There will be a day when each of us must given an account for how we have lived in this world. The Lord Jesus Christ confronted Saul of Tarsus and he said to him, "It is hard for you to go on like this kicking against the goads." He was aware that that was exactly what Saul was doing, defying his own screaming conscience in the case of every man or woman he had stoned to death or thrown into prison. "Why are you persecuting me?" he said to Saul. So the Saviour knew everything about Saul's life. But Jesus also speaks of those to whom he will say, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant." He has seen our lives. He has noticed what we've done, especially that we've been servants. The cup of cold water given in Jesus' name to a thirsty person is going to receive a reward from him.

Those who commend themselves are motivated by self-effort. Those who are commended by God have a relationship with the indwelling Lord. Those who commend themselves are impressed with the "big deal." Those commended by God find it almost impossible to distinguish the small from the large service. Those who commend themselves do it for external rewards. Those commended by God are satisfied that one day they will hear his words of approval. Those who commend themselves are highly concerned about results. Those commended by God are free of the need to calculate results. Those who commend themselves pick and choose whom to serve, but the service of those commended by God is indiscriminate in its ministry. Those who commend themselves are affected by moods and whims. Those commended by God do so simply and faithfully because there is a need. Self-commenders give temporary service. The service of those commended by God is a life-style. Those who commend themselves lack spiritual sensitivity. Those who are commended by God insist on meeting the need even when to do so means a cross. Those who commend themselves can withhold their service as freely as perform it. Those who are commended by God are faithful until the end. Those who commend themselves fracture a congregation. Those commended by God build fellowship and community

Are you building up your fellow Christians and being built up yourself? Are you faithful in the sphere of service where God has placed you? Do you long to see the work of God expanded? Do you glory in the Lord? These are the marks of the people the Lord commends. He will say in that tremendous day, “Well done thou good and faithful servant”

Theodore Roosevelt "Criticism is necessary and useful; it is often indispensable; but it can never take the place of action, or be even a poor substitute for it. The function of the mere critic is of very subordinate usefulness. It is the doer of deeds who actually counts in the battle for life, and not the man who looks on and says how the fight ought to be fought, without himself sharing the stress and the danger." (1894)

"It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat." "Citizenship in a Republic," Speech at the Sorbonne, Paris, April 23, 1910 "...the man who really counts in the world is the doer, not the mere critic-the man who actually does the work, even if roughly and imperfectly, not the man who only talks or writes about how it ought to be done." (1891)

But lets consider how Paul answers these critics.

D A Carson “All this presupposes that the church ahs the responsibility to make judgements, but the judgements should be based, not on powerful personalities capable of leading the church astray by the sheer energy of their will and personal attractiveness but by more objective criteria,, by obvious facts, by standards of Christian maturity.”

Some advocate the broadest the broadest tolerance and remind everyone that Jesus taught Matt 7:1  “Do not judge, so that you won’t be judged.

But they overlook the fact that by advocating this stance they are passing judgement on those whom they judge to judge too harshly. Moreover Jesus’ teaching is I reality a condemnation of judgementalism, not an invitation to vacuous moral indecision; for He Himself elsewhere insists, John 7:24 24 Stop judging according to outward appearances; rather judge according to righteous judgment.”

It is quite impossible for either an individual or a church to make no judgements; for even the failure to make decisions is in fact a decision based upon the implicit assumption that the circumstances are not weighty enough to force a judgement. If the Corinthian church in the situation before us decided to make no judgements, it would in fact be deciding to disobey the apostle. Neither an individual Christian nor a church can avoid responsibility by refusing to make judgements; for that very refusal is already a judgement , an evaluation of commitments, strategies priorities and competing truth claims.”

Advice for Handling Criticism

In his book Confessions of a Pastor, Craig Groeschel offers some advice on how to handle critics:

It's a fact that "hurt people hurt people." They usually dislike themselves and criticize others in a misguided effort to validate themselves. If one of these injured souls lobs a criticism grenade in your direction, defuse it with understanding. Part of considering the source is seeking awareness of what that person may be going through…

One time I was praying during worship, a few moments before preaching. Eyes closed, focusing on God, I felt someone slip a note into my hand. I never saw who it was, but the note was marked "Personal." I thought to myself, Someone probably wrote a nice note to encourage me before I preach. A warm, loving feeling settled over me as I unfolded the paper. A moment later, I lost that loving feeling. Evidently, the note was from a woman who had tried to see me on Friday, my day off. She took offense at my absence and blasted me with hateful accusations. This happened literally seconds before I was to stand up to preach. In that moment, I had a choice. I could internalize the offense and become demoralized and discouraged. Or I could ask myself, I wonder what she's experiencing that caused her to lash out? I chose compassion over depression. My heart hurt for her. I knew that such a disproportionate reaction must indicate deep pain, so I didn't take her note personally. Consider the source. And consider the possibility that the jab may have come from an injured heart. Dismiss it and move on. If you don't, you may become the very thing you despise.


2 Corinthians 11 The Cost Of Commitment


21 I say this to [our]shame: we have been weak. But in whatever anyone dares [to boast]—I am talking foolishly—I also dare:
22 Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they the seed of Abraham? So am I.
23 Are they servants of Christ? I’m talking like a madman—I’m a better one: with far more labors, many more imprisonments, far worse beatings, near death many times.
24 Five times I received from the Jews 40 lashes minus one.
25 Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked. I have spent a night and a day in the depths of the sea.
26 On frequent journeys, I faced dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my own people, dangers from the Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers  in  the open country, dangers on the sea, and dangers among false brothers;
27 labor and hardship, many sleepless nights, hunger and thirst, often without food, cold, and lacking clothing.
28 Not to mention other things, there is the daily pressure on me: my care for all the churches.
29 Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is made to stumble, and I do not burn with indignation?
30 If boasting is necessary, I will boast about my weaknesses.
31 The eternally blessed One, the God and Father of the Lord Jesus, knows I am not lying.
32 In Damascus, the governor under King Aretas guarded the city of the Damascenes in order to arrest me,
33 so I was let down in a basket through a window in the wall and escaped his hands.

Many of these Corinthians had been swept away by a group of men claiming to be apostles of Christ who had come from Jerusalem, boasting about all their tremendous accomplishments for Christ. As a result, the Corinthians were in danger of following their false teachings rather than listening to the apostle who had won them to Christ and who had so faithfully taught them and prayed for them and loved them.

Paul explains to the Corinthians why he finally resorts to boasting: It is because that is the only thing that will impress them, and win them back to a hearing of the truth of the gospel. So, very reluctantly and with considerable dislike evident in his reactions, Paul sinks to this level and begins to talk about his accomplishments for Christ. You can see this in the words in Verse 16 and following in

Chapter 11, where he says:

I repeat, let no one think me foolish; but even if you do, accept me as a fool, so that I too may boast a little. (What I am saying I say not with the Lord's authority but as a fool, in this boastful confidence; since many boast of worldly things, I too will boast.) {2 Cor 11:16-18 RSV}

It is very apparent that Paul does not want to do this. It is not normally right for a Christian to do this. That may come as a surprise, because if you listen to the media or read Christian literature you will find that it is quite normal, apparently, for Christians to brag about who they are, what they have done, where they have been, and what their accomplishments are. But Paul is talking about true, normal Christianity. He says that it is not for Christians to brag about themselves in any way, but he is ready to do so because he hopes it will break the spell that these false teachers have created in Corinth. Some of the Corinthians had so completely swallowed these false teachers' line that they actually put up with arrogance and insult from them without protest. You can see that in what Paul continues to say, Verse 19:

For you gladly bear with fools, being wise yourselves! For you bear it if a man makes slaves of you, or preys upon you, or take advantage of you, or puts on airs, or strikes you in the face. To my shame, I must say, we were too weak for that! [Obviously that is an ironic statement. {2 Cor 11:19-21a RSV}

These false apostles were actually becoming arrogant and boastful. The kind of mentality that depends upon bragging to gain people's attention always tends, ultimately, towards arrogance.

But for you and I this is overwhelmingly instructive.

It Costs to be a Christian. The Cost of Commitment.

A pastor and theologian called Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote a wonderful book called "The Cost of Discipleship", Bonhoeffer starts his book by saying, "Cheap grace is the deadly enemy of our Church. We are fighting today for costly grace" . Costly grace is what Jesus offers us. To quote again from Bonhoeffer,

Costly grace is the treasure hidden in the field; for the sake of it a man will gladly go and sell all that the he has. It is a pearl of great price to buy which the merchant will sell all his goods. It is the kingly rule of Christ, for whose sake a man will pluck out the eye which causes him to stumble, it is the call of Jesus Christ at which the disciple leaves his nets and follows him.

Such grace is costly because it calls us to follow, and it is grace because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ. It is costly because it costs a man his life, and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life. It is costly because it condemns sin, and grace because it justifies the sinner. Above all, it is costly because it cost God the life of his Son, and what has cost God much cannot be cheaper for us.

Incidentally, Dietrich Bonhoeffer knew a bit about the cost of discipleship. He was a German, and throughout the war, driven by his Christian faith, he opposed the Nazis. Eventually, in 1943, the Gestapo arrested him and sent him first to prison and then to concentration camps. He was executed by the Nazis at the Flossenburg concentration camp just five days before it was liberated by the Nazis. He had written his book, the Cost of Discipleship, many years earlier, but there's no doubt that he lived out what he preached.

The Lord Jesus descried the cost of commitment in this way: Luke 14

If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters—yes, even his own life—he cannot be my disciple. And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple... Any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple. (Luke 14:26-33)

: 28-30 he describes a man building a tower.

Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it? For if he lays the foundation and is not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule him, saying, 'This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.'ref

Of course he will sit down beforehand and estimate the cost, and check his resources, before embarking on the project. No one wants to end up a laughing stock, do they? Perhaps we could change the word "tower" to "dome" to make it more contemporary, or am I being a little unfair?

More seriously, we should understand that Christian discipleship is like going to war, which is the picture Jesus uses in verses 31-32.

Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Will he not first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace.

In other words, Jesus is saying, "Don't start it if you can't finish it. Sit down beforehand and estimate the cost.

Christian discipleship can be a dangerous affair. Paul endured great suffering in his mission. Modern missionaries have had similar experiences. We must be willing to back up our beliefs with our lives.

1. It Can Cost you Physically To Be A Christian

Forty lashes minus one. This was a purely Jewish form of punishment. The Law of Moses said that for certain offenses you could be publicly whipped with forty lashes. But it also said, according to the Jewish rabbis, that if more than forty were inflicted the man who did the whipping had to receive forty lashes of his own. So to prevent that they were careful not to go quite to forty; they made it thirty-nine, "forty less one."

Also it may have been the whip had 3 tails on it. And they were beaten 13 times with the 3 pronged whip. The victim was tied between two pillars on his back, with his chest laid bare. One third of the blows fell on his chest from neck to navel. The he was turned over on to his back and the other two thirds of the beating were administered.

Now incredible as it sounds (and we have no record of it other than this), Paul had endured that terrible beating five times. The Law also said that if a man died because of a flogging, his death would not be blamed upon the man doing the whipping, so it is clear that this whipping was so severe it could take your life.

Beaten with rods. This was Roman punishment. Paul was a Roman citizen and although the law of Rome decreed that no citizen should be beaten with rods. Yet by this time on three different occasions he had been so beaten. In the book of Acts there is another incident of that nature recorded which comes later than this.

Missionary woman doctor in Africa. Helen Roseveare was born into a well-respected English family.

During her freshman year in Cambridge University she had a conversion experience and joined an evangelical church. She became a doctor and felt called to serve God in Africa.

In 1953 she set sail for the Congo. Very soon she realized the typical missionary hospital wasn't adequate for the human suffering she encountered. Helen envisioned a training center where nurses would be taught the Bible and basic medicine. Then they would be sent back to their villages to handle routine cases, teach preventive medicine, and evangelize. Her missionary colleagues blocked her at every turn. Just when her training center was ready to graduate its first students, the mission moved her to Nebobongo, a remote leprosy camp in the jungle. Helen started from scratch and built up a new training

center. She also became friends with the Africans and went to an old African preacher when she needed spiritual help. Humbling herself in this way was unacceptable to the other missionaries.

To keep her in her place, the mission board sent a man to Nebobongo and put him in charge. It was a bitter pill for Helen. She submitted to his authority but it tore her up. Every seven years she was given a furlough back in England. This time she decided to get a husband so she would have more pull with the other missionaries. She met a young Christian doctor, bought new clothes and got a new hair style, and tried to win him. She even resigned from the mission. The young doctor liked her but wouldn't marry her.

Still single, Helen returned to Congo in 1960, just as that nation became independent.

It was a very uneasy time for whites and many of the missionaries began to leave for good. Helen had a great opportunity to build up Nebobongo on her own. Meanwhile, the Simba rebels took control of village after village. In the summer of 1964 they occupied Nebobongo and put Helen under house arrest.

Atrocities were being committed daily. On October 29, Helen was forced to endure a series of brutal assaults. One verse came to her mind: "My God, my God, why have you

forsaken me?" Two months later she was finally liberated. A year later Helen Roseveare returned to Nebobongo. The new spirit of African nationalism continually questioned her authority. Finally, after twenty years of hard service, she arranged to turn over the mission to an African colleague. She organized a big day to celebrate the handover and the graduation of a class of students. At the last moment the students went on strike and the celebration was cancelled. Helen returned to England in 1973 to face a very lonely period in her life. But as with so many other disappointing experiences, she turned to God. Instead of bitterness there was a new spirit of humility and a new appreciation for what Jesus had done for her on the cross. In the years that followed she became an acclaimed spokeswoman for Christian missions.

Martyred missionary in India. Just a few years ago an Australian missionary and his two sons were burned to death in India. Graham Staines and his wife Gladys had answered the call to spread the gospel there. After the murders, Gladys publicly forgave the murderers. Her forgiveness of such brutality is being seen as "true spirituality" which is inherently attractive to the Hindu mind. More than this, she is staying in India instead of going home. "The thought of getting up and leaving has just not occurred to me once. I just feel that this is where God has called me."

When I read this list I ask myself, "What have I ever endured for Christ's sake?" It makes me feel grateful that God has never asked me to endure such things. He could have, he could have asked us all to, but he did not. And it also makes me wonder how I would go if I had to endure what Paul had endured.

2. It Can Cost you Emotionally To Be A Christian

See the anxiety, in Verse 28: And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure upon me of my anxiety for all the churches. Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is made to fall, and I am not indignant? {2 Cor 11:28-29 RSV}

Through the course of these twelve years that I have been pastor here, I have been privileged to bear some of the burdens, the sorrows, the pain, the heartache and tears of many of you and share them with you. I confess that it is sometimes a great strain. I have not done very well at it. It makes me even more amazed to think of this mighty apostle bearing the burdens of dozens of churches that he founded, being open to their needs, and praying for them daily. He had never even been to Colossae, he did not start the church there, but he prayed for them, and upheld them before God every day. What a tremendous ministry of mercy this man had! What empathy he shows. What ability to respond to the emotional heart-cries of people. I shake my head in amazement.

As you read a list like this it raises the question: "Why would anyone put up with this kind of life?"

If that is what Christianity can involve, what made this man willing to go through these terrible hardships, pressures, trials and dangers? What motivated him?

The only answer I can find is the one he himself gives us in Chapter 5 of this very letter -- "the love of Christ constrains me," {cf, 2 Cor 5:14a KJV}. It was his sense of gratitude to the risen Lord who not only had forgiven him and filled him and restored him but who went with him into these trials and sustained him in every one of them, turning them into experiences of joy rather than hardship. That love flowed through Paul to reach out to those around to whom he was ministering.

26 On frequent journeys, I faced dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my own people, dangers from the Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers  in  the open country, dangers on the sea, and dangers among false brothers;

The dangers, these dangers produce anxiety of themselves. Sometimes I wonder whether the anxiety over something is not much worse than the thing itself.

How do you cope with that kind of relentless pressure that is more than any of us is dealing with? Paul's answer was to search for God's design in the stresses and draw strength and hope from that. For example, once in Asia the pressure rose to the breaking point and Paul described how he handled it this way: We were so utterly, unbearably crushed that we despaired of life itself. Why, we felt that we had received the sentence of death; but (here he looks for the design of God that gives meaning and hope to the experience) that was to make us rely not on ourselves, but on God who raises the dead . . . on him we have set our hope. (2 Corinthians 1:8-10) The crushing experience was not meaningless. His life was not in disarray. There was a divine design. God had a purpose in all his pressures. And that purpose and that design gave him strength, and sustained him. (The same thing is seen in 4:8-11 and 12:8-10.) Victor Frankl survivor of the holocaust in Germany. Why could some endure the years of incredible stress and others not? Frankl concluded with the words: "He who has a WHY to live can bear almost any HOW."

Adoniram Judson, who went to Burma. When war broke out with England. Because he was white and English speaking was arrested, force marched barefoot for eight miles, where he was tortured by being hanged from his manacled ankles upside down each night on a bamboo pole, mosquitoes feasted on his raw flesh. This went on for two years and Judson managed to endure because his beloved wife brought him food each day and pleaded with the guards for better treatment. A few months after his release, Judson’s wife, weakened by small pox died and shortly thereafter their baby daughter. He would kneel beside here grave for hours daily and work tirelessly to translate the Bible into Burmese. Only a handful of people showed any interest at all in the Christian message. He labored for 24 years to see his first convert. He stayed on, in total, 34 years and because of his faithfulness, more than one million Burmese Christians today trace their roots to Adoniram Judson.

It can Cost You Financially to Be A Christian.

27 labor and hardship, many sleepless nights, hunger and thirst, often without food, cold, and lacking clothing.

It can Cost You Your Self to Be A Christian.

30 If boasting is necessary, I will boast about my weaknesses. 31 The eternally blessed One, the God and Father of the Lord Jesus, knows I am not lying. 32 In Damascus, the governor under King Aretas guarded the city of the Damascenes in order to arrest me, 33 so I was let down in a basket through a window in the wall and escaped his hands.

The verses here are interesting. Did you notice verse 30.. and veses 32 and 33 are the fulfilment of this.

There is a reverse boasting here. In a military campaign an award ws given to the first man “over the wall” to take a city. It was sort of like being awarded an Order of Australia. The first one in a battle to breach the wall got the prize! Here is the reverse for this.

Here was Paul’s weakness. He boasts of being the first Christian out of the city over the wall.

He was at the mercy of others to save him.

Mark 8: 34 Summoning the crowd along with His disciples, He said to them, “If anyone wants to be My follower, he must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Me. 35 For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of Me and the gospel will save it. 36 For what does it benefit a man to gain the whole world yet lose his life?

In his book, Above the Level of Mediocrity, Chuck Swindoll writes: A house church in a city in the Soviet Union received a copy of the Gospel of Luke, the only Scripture most of these Christians had ever seen. They tore it into small sections and distributed these sections among the believers.. Their plan was to memorize the portion they had been given; then on the next Lord's Day, they would meet and exchange their copy with other believers. One Sunday these believers arrived inconspicuously in small groups throughout the day so not to arouse the suspicion of KGB informers. By dusk they were all safely inside, windows closed and doors locked. They began by quietly singing a hymn with deep emotion. Suddenly, the door was pushed open and in walked two soldiers with loaded automatic weapons at the ready. One shouted, "All right, everyone line up against the wall. If you wish to renounce your commitment to Jesus Christ, leave now!" Two or three quickly left then another. After a few more seconds, two more. "This is your last chance. Either turn against your faith in Christ," he ordered, "or stay and suffer the consequences." Another left. Finally, two more in embarrassed silence with their faces covered slipped out into the night. No one else moved. Parents with small children trembling beside them looked down reassuringly. They fully expected to be gunned down, or at best, to be imprisoned. After a few moments of complete silence, the other soldier closed the door, looked back at those who stood against the wall and said, "Keep your hands up, but this time in praise to our Lord Jesus Christ. We, too, are Christians and you are our brothers and sisters. We were sent to another house church several weeks ago to arrest a group of believers . . . " The other soldier interrupted, "But, instead, we were converted! We have learned by experience, however, that unless people are willing to die for their faith, they cannot be fully trusted."


2 Corinthians 12 Discovering What Real Christianity Is All About


Paul has recounted how his commitment to Christ has led him into some terrible situations.

These situations were life threatening. Some of the situations were glorious. 2 Corinthians 12:1-8

All of these situations testified to the reality of his relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. They signified Paul as a true apostle, when compared to some who claimed to be apostles when they came to the church at Corinth.

These false apostles at Corinth were making out that Paul was something nothing, someone to be passed over. But Paul could not allow that to happen, not because Paul was proud or vain, but because Paul recognised that the preservation of the gospel in that place depended upon these Corinthians appreciating his apostleship, and ignoring the competing claims of those in Corinth who wished to be thought of as apostles. It was important, because it was about the gospel!

It was important, because, the Corinthians needed to be committed to the Lord Jesus Christ.

Paul continues to show that the only thing he can ever boast of is that he knows the Lord Jesus Christ.

Sometimes it takes sufferings to make us realise what is really important. And Paul had discovered for himself what was really important. And he shares that with us now.

“Therefore, so that I would not exalt myself, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to torment me so I would not exalt myself. 8 Concerning this, I pleaded with the Lord three times to take it away from me. 9 But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Therefore, I will most gladly boast all the more about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may reside in me. 10 So because of Christ, I am pleased in weaknesses, in insults, in catastrophes, in persecutions, and in pressures. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

Suffering can affect us all in many ways.

In 1990 Ted Turner, founding genius of Cable News Network, star of the TV show, connoisseur of Miss Universe contests, and once husband of Jane Fonda received the Humanist of the Year award. In his acceptance speech, in Orlando, Florida, he shared a moving story about a sister who became critically ill when he was just a child. He said he had been raised in a God-fearing family and when she became ill he prayed desperately that the Lord would heal her. But instead she got progressively worse and died.

Turner then told the audience, “From then on I knew, even as a kid, there was no God up there. What kind of a loving God would have allowed my sister to suffer and die?” He then said the rest of his life he depended on himself only, “Not on an unfeeling phantom-being that did not exist.”

A quotation from Reader’s Digest captured my attention recently. It said, “The believer in God must explain one thing, the existence of suffering; the nonbeliever, however, must explain the existence of everything else” (The Nine Questions People Ask About Judaism; Simon & Schuster; Dennis Pranger and Joseph Telushkin). It may seem easier to explain the existence of everything else than it is to explain the existence of suffering. Things like these happen all the time — tragic things, things hard to understand, things hard to explain; things that are hard on faith. And when they do some people lay the blame for all that happens at the feet of God and become bitter and cynical toward him.

Arthur John Gossip once said, “Some people, when belief comes hard, fling away from the Christian faith altogether. But, in heaven’s name,” he asked, speaking himself from the depth of personal tragedy at the death of his wife, whilst he was away as a chaplain in the first World War. “fling away for what?”

Life is a mystery. Much of what happens in life is beyond us. We do not understand why some people have cancer; why some people are involved in tragic accidents; why some people suffer premature heart attacks; why some people live in constant pain while others live relatively trouble-free lives. And even if it was explained to us we probably wouldn’t be satisfied with it. The only sensible stance for us, therefore, is one of faith and trust in God. It is to take the posture of humility.

We find ourselves, in the face of the mystery of suffering and death — the hard questions of life — in the same position of the first disciples of Jesus. Jesus had given some hard sayings and many of his fair-weather followers turned and walked with him no more. He then turned to his disciples and asked, “Will you also go away?” Then Peter answered, “Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life” (John 6:68). When confronted with the mysteries of life, we must either swim with Jesus or sink in despair.

We need the faith of Job who said from the depths of sorrow, “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him” (Job 13:15). Job had already lost everything but his life. Now he said if he lost even that he’d keep trusting God. Perhaps the greatest expression of undaunted faith ever penned came from the prophet Habakkuk. He lived in times that were hard on faith. He saw the righteous suffering and the wicked prospering and he asked God why he allowed these things to happen and how long before he would rectify them. With that, Habakkuk realized that though he did not understand the ways of God and did not agree with the timing of God, still he could not doubt the wisdom of God or the love of God or the reliability of God. That’s when he wrote this great affirmation of faith: “Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labor of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls: yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation. The Lord God is my strength, and he will make my feet like hinds’ feet, and he will make me to walk upon mine high places” Habakkuk was saying if everything he had trusted in and relied on failed, if everything that gave stability to his life crumbled, still he’d trust the Lord.

Corrie Ten Boom said, “The older I get the less I question and the more I trust.”

Charles Haddon Spurgeon expressed the kind of undaunted faith we need when he said:

God is too kind to be cruel; God is too wise to make a mistake;

When we cannot trace the hand of God, we must trust the heart of God.

• We need A faith that trusts the ways of God.

So, Paul writes, “lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me” (2 Cor. 12:7)

This thorn in the flesh, we are not told what it was.

It may have been a person who persecuted Paul mercilessly::

Raoul Wallenberg, the Swedish diplomat, was executed by the Nazis for helping to save hundreds of Jews during World War II. In a very moving scene, a young Jewish boy is talking with an aged rabbi. The boy had long since given up belief in God. He said to the rabbi, “Rabbi, you know how the German soldiers drown our people in the Danube River. You saw how they shot our children in the back. I don’t see how you can believe in God.” The old rabbi responded, “I don’t see how you can believe in man.”

It may have been an illness. A thorn in his flesh! It may have been that Paul’s eyesight had been damaged by possibly Malaria or some other disease during his Missionary travels.

We are not told what it was, and so we can know that whatever the circumstances, whatever ails you, you can find the same solution that the Apostle Paul found.

We need A faith that trusts the ways of God. “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Is. 55:8-9).

When God wants to drill a man And thrill a man, And skill a man,

When God wants to mold a man To play the noblest part;

When he yearns with all his heart, To create so great and bold a man,

That all the world shall be amazed, Watch his methods, watch his ways!

How he ruthlessly perfects, Whom he royally elects!

How he hammers him and hurts him, And with mighty blows converts him

Into trial shapes of clay which Only God understands;

While his tortured heart is crying And he lifts beseeching hands!

How he bends but never breaks, When his good he undertakes;

How he uses whom he chooses, And with every purpose fuses him;

By every act induces him To try his splendor out —

God knows what he’s about!

Charles de Gaulle put it well when he said, “The man of character finds a special attractiveness

in difficulty since it is only by coming to grips with adversity that he can realize his potentialities.”

of Satan to buffet me” (2 Cor. 12:7).

We do not know what Paul’s affliction was. The word “thorn” suggests it was intensely painful. The phrase “in the flesh” locates it. It was a physical affliction. The word buffet means to punch, to jab, to hit. It was the word that is used to describe what the soldiers did to Jesus during his trial. In the same way

that the soldiers beat Jesus down, so Paul says he had an intensely painful physical affliction that kept him beaten down.

Three times in prayer he asked God to remove his affliction. Three times he pounded on the gates of heaven. The answer came back, “No! It is for your good.” God answered Paul by saying that his grace would enable him to live with his infirmity. Paul concluded that the problem was being used to make him

aware of his total dependence upon God. It was in his weakness that God’s strength was being revealed. Paul’s response was, “I am most happy, then, to be proud of my weakness in order to feel the protection of Christ’s power over me. I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and difficulties for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” Paul accepted his weakness as God’s opportunity to make himself known. He now sees that the hard and continued discipline of pain and ill health was God’s way of saving him from pride that is fatal to usefulness.

Paul saw in all this a divine purpose has been worked out through the physical ailment he has to suffer. It has kept him from pride and arrogance, which he might have felt as a result of his special vision. He saw this as God’s way of saving him from pride that is fatal in the Christian’s spirit and usefulness.

The same can be true of us. Trouble should never get a Christian lower than his knees. Ethel Barrymore said, “When life knocks you to your knees, and it will, why, get up! If it knocks you to your knees again, as it will, well, isn’t that the best position from which to pray?”

The best posture for a Christian is always knees down and chin up. And when we pray, in faith, James

says, the Lord never becomes impatient with our asking. He responds by giving us wisdom and strength.

No one ever sought the father and found he was not there,

And no burden is too heavy to be lightened by a prayer,

No problem is too intricate and no sorrow that we face,

Is too deep and devastating to be softened by his grace,

No trials and tribulations are beyond what we can bear,

If we share them with our father as we talk to him in prayer.

• We Need A faith that trusts the love of God.

“Therefore, so that I would not exalt myself, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to torment me so I would not exalt myself.

William Cowper wrote about both the mystery of God’s ways and the grace of God in his poem, The Mysterious Way. He wrote: God moves in a mysterious way His wonders to perform;

He plants his footsteps in the sea And rides upon the storm.

Judge not the Lord by feeble sense, But trust him for his grace;

Behind a frowning providence He hides a smiling face.

When trouble comes we sometimes wonder, “How can God love me and allow this to happen?” when the fact is, it is because he loves us that he allows it to happen.

Hebrews 12 contains a rendering of Proverbs 3:11- 12, which reads: “My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: for whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth”.

So, far from being a denial of God’s love, chastisement is an affirmation of his love. If God did not care about us, he would let us go. But because he loves us and feels responsible for us, he will not let us go on without correction.

Hebrews 12:9 “Furthermore, we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live?”

An old Quaker farmer once made a weathervane with the words, “God is love,” carved on it and placed it on top of his barn. And whenever the wind blew the weathervane turned with it. One day one of the elders of his church saw the weathervane and said to him, “Friend, I don’t like that. God’s love is not variable. God’s love doesn’t change with the wind.” The old farmer replied, “Friend, you have misunderstood its meaning. The point is, regardless of which direction the wind blows, God still loves me.”

Paul (Rom. 8:35-39 )declares this truth when he asks, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?” Then he lists everything that might conceivably do that. He says, “I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus the Lord”

These things may separate us from health and wealth, from family and friends, from comfort and ease, but they will never separate us from the love of God. So we can know beyond any doubt that whatever happens to us, God still loves us. And, in our hour of deepest suffering and agony, when we think God does not care about us, he may be expressing his love for us in the deepest and most personal way. It may be an effort on his part to get our attention and turn us back to himself

Hebrews 12:11 “No chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless, afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.”

Soviet novelist Alexandr Solzhenitsyn was placed in prison in Siberia for his dissident writings. After 10 years in prison he wrote, “Bless you, prison, bless you for having been my life.” Then he added, “It was there, lying on that rotten prison straw, that for the first time I understood that the purpose of life is not prosperity as we have been made to believe, but the maturing of the human soul.”

•We Need A faith that trusts the grace of God.

The truth is, life is a mystery. Much that happens is beyond us. We do not understand and we cannot explain why things happen as they do. But though we may not have answers, we do have the answer. The answer is the Lord himself.

So Habakkuk says, “I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation. The Lord God is my strength, and he will make my feet like hind’s feet, and will make me to walk upon mine high places.”

When David Livingstone returned to his native Scotland after 16 years as a missionary in Africa, his body was emaciated by the ravages of some 27 fevers that had coursed through his body during the years of his service. His left arm hung uselessly at his side, the result of being mangled by a lion. Speaking to the students of Glasgow University, he said,

“Shall I tell you what sustained me during the hardships and loneliness of my exile? It was Christ’s promise, ‘Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end.’” Then he said, “This is the word of a gentleman of the most strict and sacred honor, so there’s an end of it.”

Robert Hamilton wrote: I walked a mile with Pleasure, she chattered all the way,

I was none the wiser for what she had to say. I walked a mile with Sorrow, ne’er a word said she.

But, oh, the things I learned from her when Sorrow walked with me.

Terry Waite, a longtime hostage in Lebanon, wrote of his experience: “I have been determined in captivity, and still am determined, to convert this experience into something that will be useful and good for other people. I think that’s the way to approach suffering. It seems to me that Christianity doesn’t, in any way, lessen suffering. What it does is enable you to take it, to face it, to work through it, and eventually to convert it” (Terry Waite, quoted in Church Times, December 27, 1991).

He giveth more grace as our burdens grow greater, He sendeth more strength as our labors increase;
To added afflictions He addeth His mercy, To multiplied trials he multiplies peace.

When we have exhausted our store of endurance, When our strength has failed ere the day is half done,
When we reach the end of our hoarded resources Our Father’s full giving is only begun.

His love has no limits, His grace has no measure, His power no boundary known unto men;
For out of His infinite riches in Jesus He giveth, and giveth, and giveth again.

We can't deny that there is suffering and tragedy in the world, suffering that is so often incomprehensible to us. We can look on a global scale, and see children being slaughtered for no good reason--or any reason at all. 2 Corinthians 12, the apostle Paul writes about a particular form of suffering that he was forced to endure constantly--he refers to that mysterious, elusive "thorn of the flesh," or the "thorn in his side." What was he referring to, exactly? There's plenty of speculation in the academic world and in the church about just what exactly this "thorn in the flesh" was--there always has been, and there probably always will be. Many commonly say that it was some sort of recurring physical pain, something that restricted Paul's ministry, something that seriously affected his ability to get around. Other have said that the "thorn" was Paul's opposition, those who sought to shut him up or take his life because of his message of salvation through Christ. Some have guessed that the "thorn in the flesh" was some terrible habit or temptation that Paul simply couldn't shake. Others have come up with various theories: Some say Paul may have been epileptic, one writer asserted that Paul must have had recurring malarial fever, and on and on.

this assault by the false teachers on the Corinthian church which resulted in their betrayal of Paul is here described as a "thorn in the flesh." He further describes it as a messenger of Satan. The messenger is the word angelos in the Greek, it means angel, and an angel from Satan is a demon and so he's telling us here that this terrible, terrible betrayal by the Corinthians, this defection from the true gospel and the truth that he had taught them, this was all being orchestrated by a demon. Demon-inspired false teachers had come into that church and perpetrated this terrible, terrible mutiny. And the effect of it was to buffet me, he said, and that's the word torment. Paul was personally tormented by the problems in the Corinthian church. Because he loved God so much he didn't want to see God dishonored, because he loved the gospel so much he didn't want to see it misunderstood, because he loved the church so much he didn't want to see it torn up and divided, because he loved those people so much he didn't want to see them fall victim to lying false teachers.

But what we DO know is this: The thorn in the flesh was RECURRING, not a one-timer but a CONTINUAL problem for Paul; and furthermore, it was BAD, BAD, NOTHING BUT BAD. NOWHERE, EVER does Paul suggest in any way that there was anything good about his "thorn" in the flesh. Nowhere does he suggest that his problem was anything but a pure abhorration, something absolutely bad in every possible way.

" Does Jesus care when my heart is pained, Too deeply for mirth or song

As the burdens press and the cares distress And the way grows weary and long.

Oh, yes He cares, I know He cares, His heart is touched with my grief,

When the day are weary and the long nights dreary I know my Saviour cares."

He asked for strength that he might achieve, He was made weak that he might obey.

He asked for health that he might do great things; He was given infirmity that he might do better things.

He asked for riches that he might be happy; He was given poverty that he might be wise.

He asked for power that he might have the praise of men; He was given weakness that he might feel the power of God.

He asked for all things that he might enjoy life; He was given life that he might enjoy all things.

He received nothing that he asked, all that he hoped for: His prayer was answered

" Accept it. From Thy hand, dear Lord I take This hurting thing, and bear it for Thy sake.

Not bear it only, but in Thy dear name, Thy strength, Thy power, to love it Lord, I claim:

To love it till from struggles, toil and tears, The likeness of Thy life in me appears.

Accept it. From Thy hand this thing I take, Lord, make it glorious for Thine own name's sake."

There burns a fire with sacred heat, white hot with holy flame,

And all who dare pass through its blaze will not emerge the same,

Some as bronze, some as silver, some as gold, then with great skill,

All are hammered by their suffering on the anvil of his will.

I’m learning now to trust his touch, to crave the fires embrace,

For though my past with sin is etched, his mercies did embrace,

Each time his purging cleanses deeper, I’m not sure that I’ll survive

Yet the strength in growing weaker, keeps my hungry soul alive.

The refiners’ fire has now become my soul’s desire,

Purged and cleansed and purified that the Lord be glorified,

He is consuming my soul, refining me, making me whole,

No matter what I lose, I chose the refiners fire.

William Penn, the great Quaker writer and thinker, put it like this: No pain, no palm: No thorns, no throne; No gall, no glory; No cross, no crown.

Sometimes we come to life's crossroads And we view what we think is the end.

But God has a much wider vision And He knows that it's only a bend-

The road will go on and get smoother And after we've stopped for a rest,

The path that lies hidden beyond us Is often the path that is best.

So rest and relax and grow stronger, Let go and let God share your load

And have faith in a brighter tomorrow. You've just come to a bend in the road.

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