(2 Corinthians 12:16-21)
In my last few posts I have spoken a lot about the state of the modern church in many of it’s parts. How it seems to take advantage of the people who come into the church and how many of the teachers, preachers, pastors and ministers seem to be in it for what they can get out of it.
And while these things are true, it is not the case across the whole church, for there are many who are in ministry for the right reasons. They have a desire for the work of the Lord and to help disciple and call people to Christ for THEIR benefit and not for selfish and self-serving reasons.
Such people are following the footsteps that Paul speaks of in this last section of 2 Corinthians 12. And importantly we see that in his work, Paul ensured that the churches were not left to their own devices, to fall into error. Instead he ensured that those who had made a start in the Lord received continuing teaching, counselling and follow-up so that they remained on the straight and narrow.
Taking Advantage of the Flock
Paul says in this section, quite indignantly it seems, that some in the Corinthian church thought he may have been crafty. They appeared to think that his efforts at making the gospel free of charge to the church and not laying any burden on the church were for the purpose of guile, as if he had something to hide. Perhaps they thought he got them into the church by craftiness and would then seek an advantage over them at some later stage.
Is it any wonder Paul would feel indignant, if this is how they were thinking. Experience tells me that if someone in or around the church planted this idea in the heads of the people in the church, then you would have to wonder who that person or people were (perhaps the “super” apostles Paul refers to), and what advantage THEY were seeking. Was it to discredit the work of Paul so that they could step in and take over for the purposes of power or personal gain? Who knows!
The Bible tells us that such things as this will occur. If you take note of the words of Jesus:
”Where the body is, there the vultures will gather” (Luke 17:37)
Wherever the body is, and this scripture appears to refer to a corpse, there will you find the birds of prey. This is an analogy for the church that where the church is dead because they have accepted false doctrine, false teaching and fallen prey to the lies of the emissaries of the devil, there you will find the ones who will take advantage of the flock.
Paul’s aim with the church at Corinth was to ensure they did not fall into this trap. He was working with them and writing to them and sending other teachers and preachers to them in order to ensure they had everything they needed to remain on the straight and narrow path.
And of course the devil was doing all he could to tear them down, to lead them astray and to discredit Paul so that the people would reject him and his teachings. This has happened many times in the church over the years, but we can take comfort also in the words of the Lord who said:
Among them are Hymenae’us and Phile’tus, 18 who have swerved from the truth by holding that the resurrection is past already. They are upsetting the faith of some. 19 But God’s firm foundation stands, bearing this seal: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and, “Let every one who names the name of the Lord depart from iniquity.” (2 Timothy 2:17-19)
You’ll Never Walk Alone
The Lord does know who are His and those who will be captured by the enemy and led astray. And He will protect His people like a mother lion protects her cubs.
In the work that Paul was doing, he ensured also that the people would never walk alone. When you are alone there is the opportunity for wrong teaching to come in and destroy the work of the Lord. That is, until a person has matured in Christ and is able to distinguish truth from error.
But Paul constantly provided teaching through his letters, his visits and the visits of his circle of trusted teachers to ensure the people were never left alone to their own devices, or to the opportunistic wiles of the devil to capture and sway the church. And it is evident that they needed this instruction and care, for we see in Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians that the church was in trouble.
And we see also the need for people to come together so that they never walk alone in other places.
23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful; 24 and let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. (Hebrews 10:23-25)
Look at the reasoning of the writer of Hebrews. He encourages the people to come together and meet together, and admonishes some who are neglecting to do so.
It is important to meet together, and the scripture above indicates a number of the reasons why. We meet together to stir one another up to love and good works, and to encourage one another. We also meet together to share lessons and to learn. We meet together to come into communion with the Lord and to worship and praise both the Father and the Son who gave so much so that we might have the chance of salvation.
It is not good for people to walk alone, and that is why the Lord has made it necessary that we do not walk alone…ever. Think over the following verses as evidence both of the need to never walk alone, and how the Lord has provided for us so that we should never have to walk alone.
”I am with you always, to the close of the age.” (Matthew 28:20)
“I will never fail you nor forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5)
16 And I will pray the Father, and he will give you another Counselor, to be with you for ever, 17 even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him; you know him, for he dwells with you, and will be in you. 18 “I will not leave you desolate; I will come to you. (John 14:16-18)
In all ways the Lord has ensured that we should NOT be alone. It is when we try to walk alone that we fall by the wayside. In every way be sure to walk in Christ, to seek Him out, to pray and communicate with God and to be led by the Holy Spirit in all you do. This was the plan from the very beginning. It was always God’s plan for man to be in company…with God, so that we are never and will never walk alone.
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