Making The Gospel Free

(2 Corinthians 12:11-15)

One of the great things we see in Paul was that he chose to make the gospel free to all those to whom he preached. He did not put any burdens upon any of the early churches because he did not want to burden them in any way. His aim always was to ensure there was no cost associated with preaching the gospel so that no-one could accuse him of feathering his own nest or lining his own pockets.

Making the Gospel Free

Making the Gospel Free

Clearly this was not the case with some of the other teachers and preachers of Paul’s day. He specifically refers in this section to some “superlative” apostles or, in some translations, “super” apostles who were going into the churches and preaching for profit.

And as much as I hate to say it, how many of the churches today, especially the big televangelist organisations, are doing the very thing Paul was preaching against? Too many!

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My Power is Made Perfect in Weakness

(2 Corinthians 12:1-10)

Paul boasts in this section of scripture. But his boasts are not like the boasts of most men.

My Power is made Perfect in Weakness

My Power is made Perfect in Weakness

Here we see Paul boasting of his weaknesses and failings, not his strengths or achievements, as most men would do. Paul understood that all of the things he did well, all of his learning and the work he had done in the name of Jesus, were not really his work. The work he did and the things he achieved were done through the power of the Lord and by the working of the Holy Spirit in him.

And so if all the strong things, the good things and the achievements he made were done by the Lord, then all that is left are the weaknesses, the failures, the mistakes and the frailties. It is these he boasted of, not because he was proud of them, but rather because the Lord had shown him that, “My power is made perfect in weakness.”

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Suffering For Christ

(2 Corinthians 11:21-33)

If ever there was anyone who suffered for the sake of the Lord, it was Paul. In this section he recounts any number of personal, physical and spiritual attacks on his person, many of which could have easily killed him.

Suffering for Christ

Suffering for Christ

But they didn’t. The Lord protected him through all of these persecutions and lifted Paul up to do the work to which he had been called. A person might wonder why he had to go through this litany of suffering, but Paul understood what was happening. Paul knew he had to suffer for Christ, and he was prepared to do so.

This was perhaps the greatest sacrifice anyone could make for the sake of the Lord. He had a work to do and he did it in spite of the suffering. Which raises an important question. Are you prepared to suffer for Christ and your walk with Jesus?


Peace and Joy

All who have been called to Christ will suffer for their call to some extent. It is a given that suffering is part of the process of the walk we make with Jesus.

But isn’t it supposed to be all peace and joy when a person comes to Christ?

Yes, there is great joy and great peace in knowing Jesus. But there is also suffering. The peace and joy we have is in the knowledge that He will help us through our suffering. We will not suffer alone but Jesus will protect and guide so that we do not suffer beyond what we are able to handle.

We also have great peace and joy in the knowledge that everything of this life is only temporary. Our true life is hidden with Christ at the right hand of God and the hope of salvation to eternal life carries us through any suffering we may go through here and now.

The scripture tells us that we will find peace and joy despite the suffering and that the Lord will help us through our times of temptation.

13 No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your strength, but with the temptation will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. (1 Corinthians 10:13)

As we note from this scripture, we will be tempted and we will suffer because of temptations. We see that the Lord does not take away the temptations because it is by enduring it as we go through temptation that we are strengthened. As we lean on Him when we are tempted, we grow stronger in the faith and are able to endure and stand strong in the face of the temptation. And as we use the power of the Holy Spirit to put to death the deeds of the flesh, we overcome.

”…for if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body you will live.” (Romans 8:13)

But we will suffer as we go through these processes that eventually yield the peace and joy in Jesus Christ.

Suffering for Christ

We suffer because the work that God is doing in us is a work of transformation. We suffer the growing pains of growing out of the ways of the flesh, and metamorphosing into the ways of the Spirit. We are being transformed from beings of flesh and blood, with all the weaknesses of humanity, into the image of Christ.

As we go through these changes, we suffer because the ways of God are not the ways of man. We will be disciplined by the Lord for the purpose of training us in His ways, and we will fall and make mistakes along the way.

And even more, we will be attacked by the devil and by other people for the stand we are taking. The devil will try to rip every Christian away from Christ through physical attacks, verbal and spiritual abuse. As the scripture shows us:

8 Be sober, be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking some one to devour. 9 Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experience of suffering is required of your brotherhood throughout the world. 10 And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, establish, and strengthen you. (1 Peter 5:8-10)

The devil is on the prowl constantly looking for someone to devour. He is the great adversary and it is the devil we contend with. But note also two other things in this scripture.

First, this suffering is “required” of all the brethren around the world. We all have to go through suffering for the sake of Jesus Christ. So know that it will happen.

But the second point, and one we need to cling to, is that when we do suffer, God Himself will come to us to restore, establish and strengthen us. Even though we suffer for the name of Jesus Christ, we are also comforted by God as and when He brings us through the times of suffering. And there is another point we need to recognise as Christians.

12 Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal which comes upon you to prove you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice in so far as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. 14 If you are reproached for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. (1 Peter 4:12-14)

Peter tells us clearly that there will be fiery ordeals that we must go through, and we should not be surprised about this fact. It WILL happen whether we want it to or not. It is in the fires of life that we learn to lean on Jesus Christ and become strong. So do not fear the suffering but rejoice in it because Christ is working on you and in you as you go through these things…although it may be unpleasant at the time!

12 Indeed all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, 13 while evil men and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceivers and deceived. (2 Timothy 3:12-13)

And here is the crux of the matter. If you desire to be a Christian and to live a godly life, you will suffer persecutions. You will be battered spiritually and sometimes physically, as Paul was, for the sake of what you believe.

The evil people in this world will go from bad to worse, and they will suffer too. The difference is they do not have the hope of salvation. They do not have Jesus Christ to help them through their persecutions and to ensure they are not pushed beyond their limits. They are without hope, and rather than hate them, we should all pity them because they know not what they do.

You will suffer. Expect it. But also know that in any and all suffering you may go through, you are not alone. Jesus is with you to carry you through and He will strengthen you after you have suffered. So it is written.

You might also like:

Suffering For Jesus Sake
Whoever Loses His Life For My Sake Will Find It
Temptations To Sin Are Sure To Come
Killing The Prophets
Signs Of The Close Of The Age
Trouble For The End Times Church
Wherever The Body Is There The Eagles Will Be Gathered
The Return Of The Lord
The Disciples Will Fall Away
Peter Denies Jesus
Have You Been Hurt By The Church
Peace On Earth
Resist Temptation
The Peace Of Christ
Victory In Jesus Christ
A Chosen Instrument
Suffering For The Lords Sake
Pathways Of The Lord
Lies And Innuendo
Bound For Glory
Why We Suffer
Thank You Jesus

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Christian Freedom

(2 Corinthians 11:16-21)

One of the worst things that can happen to a person, especially a Christian, is to brought into slavery. I am not talking about the kind of slavery we are familiar with, which is physical slavery where people are captured, sold and held in chains to do the bidding of others.

Break the shackles of spiritual slavery and live in true Christian Freedom

Break the shackles of spiritual slavery and live in true Christian Freedom

No. My concern and the concern Paul raises in this section is about Christians in spiritual slavery. This is far worse than physical slavery because most Christians don’t even know they have been captured. They don’t realise they are in spiritual bondage, and too often it is the church itself which puts them into bondage and forces them to stay there.

This should not be so because Jesus came and died so that the slavery of the spirit and the bondages of sin could and would be broken. And yet many Christians today are still trapped in those same bonds and have no idea how to break free as Jesus planned.

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False Apostles

(2 Corinthians 11:7-15)

We are warned many times in the Bible about false teachers, false prophets, and here Paul also warns about false apostles.

When put under the microscope & measured by the word, the teachings of False Apostles does not stack up

When put under the microscope & measured by the word, the teachings of False Apostles does not stack up

Paul’s concern is that there were people going around the churches, supposedly preaching and teaching the word, but ho were in actual fact seeking their own ends. They were looking for personal glory, personal gain ad the adulation of the people rather than advancing the faith of the gospel.

In his concerns, Paul is worried that the people would be captured by these false apostles and be led astray and away from the truth of the gospel into false teachings that may appear to have the look and feel of righteousness, but are of no value in checking the indulgences of the flesh. And those same conditions exist in the church still today.

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Taught By God

(2 Corinthians 11:5-6)

There is a battle raging that has been going on since the very beginnings of the church, as we can see from these words written by Paul.

Taught By God

Taught By God

5 I think that I am not in the least inferior to these superlative apostles. 6 Even if I am unskilled in speaking, I am not in knowledge; in every way we have made this plain to you in all things.

Human nature is such that people tend to listen to those who are great orators or who have the most letters after their names. The orator is often persuasive and charismatic, and they are able to charm people to their point of view. Whereas, the scholarly and academics persuade from the position of being learned in some topic or other.

But this does not mean they are doing good or are promoting the truth. Adolf Hitler was a brilliant orator who wooed the whole world…before he set the world at war. And a great many scholars have been wrong as they followed and taught false teachings.

But in the church it is different and worse when these things collide. And this was Paul’s concern.

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A Different Gospel

(2 Corinthians 11:1-4)

I travel a lot each year, often going into distant cities as well as the remote towns and communities of outback Australia.

Do not fall prey to a Different Gospel. There is only one Truth.

Do not fall prey to a Different Gospel. There is only one Truth.

In my travels I have often visited churches and listened to the messages being preached in those churches. Some of these have been small country churches with just a handful of people, while others have been the large mega-churches with congregations in the thousands.

As I have listened to the messages preached from these various platforms, I have been often joyfully surprised at what I have heard. But at times I have left the churches stunned at the deceptive lies in messages preached and sick to the stomach at the damage being done to those who are receiving these messages.

This is the thrust of Paul’s words today where he too was horrified at how easily people in his time accepted a different gospel, a different Jesus and a different spirit than what is taught in the truth. And they submit to these lies and accept them readily. It was happening then, and I would go so far as to say it is worse today. Continue reading

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(2 Corinthians 10:13-18)

One of the things I heard years ago when I was in business, was that if you want to get ahead you had to be prepared to “blow your own horn.” To blow your own horn basically means to be prepared to put yourself up on a pedestal and to tell people how great you are.

Boasting, self-praise and self-promotion are not good.

Boasting, self-praise and self-promotion are not good.

Now I don’t know about you, but I was always uncomfortable with that statement, especially the principle that seems to be the foundation for these words. To me, this is boasting, and it smacks of pride and arrogance, which are two characteristics of man that have never led to anything good.

Boasting about your self is not good. Self-justification, self-aggrandizement and self- promotion to me seem to be too focused on “self” and as Christians we are told over and over to care about others more than ourselves and to worship and serve the Lord. So Paul teaches us a better way in these verses today. Continue reading

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Evil Comparisons

To compare, especially between people, is evil.

To compare, especially between people, is evil.

(2 Corinthians 10:9-12)

There is a failure in human nature that is highly destructive and divisive. It appears first in young children and remains with most people to some degree throughout their lives. It is the propensity for people to make comparisons between themselves and others.

This failing has led to great destruction and evil over history. It led to the dehumanisation and down-treading of black people in the apartheid regimes of South Africa. It led to the evils committed against the African-Americans who were deemed somehow to be sub-human. And it led to the wholesale slaughter of Jews at the hands of Adolf Hitler.

All of these and many more inhumane actions were as the direct result of making comparisons that deemed one person, group or nationality to be better or more superior than another. All of these actions were evil and were wrong.

But comparisons of an evil nature still occur daily. People still make comparisons saying that one person or group is better than another. They may not have the same devastating impact as the few examples quoted above, but that does not mean they are any less dangerous or evil than those. In fact they may be worse as they can change the way a person thinks or believes about something or someone, and it is this issue that most severely impacts the faith of believers today and what Paul was concerned about in this section of his letter to the Corinthian church.

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True Authority

(2 Corinthians 10:8)

True authority is meant to be used in a manner that helps people. The power of governments and other authorities is meant to provide assistance for those who are in need. True authority should enable those who have authority to encourage, help and lift those over whom the authority exists.

True Authority is from God

True Authority is from God

Unfortunately though, this is not always the case. Too often we see that the giving of a little authority into the hands of some people leads to many evil things. They use authority instead to lord it over others, to seek personal gain, to dole out their authority in a miserly way and to enhance their own position of power or wealth.

While this should be the case in all situations, it is even more important in the church. This is not what true authority is meant to do, and we see here Paul speak about the proper use of authority. Continue reading

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