One of the things Paul was trying to make clear to the Galatians church was that they needed to be taught by God and led by the Holy Spirit to understand the truth. The challenge they were facing at this time was they had some men come to them who were supposed to be Christians, but these man were teaching them what was essentially a form of Christianity and Judaism combined.
They were being told by these men that if they were to follow God, they had to be circumcised and taught to follow the law of Moses.
But this is not what Paul had taught them when he and Barnabas first opened the gospel of Jesus Christ up to the Galatians. And we see in these two verses that in his own early Christian walk, Paul sought confirmation of what he was teaching in order to check that he was not making an error in what he believed and then taught to others. Continue reading “Test Your Faith”
When you went to school, (or if you are still attending), there were always tests and examinations to ensure you were competent in the subject being studied. I am sure we all groaned about the litany of pop quizzes, tests and exams when they came along, but they were being done for our good.
Generally, at least in my own experience, as we approached the end of year examinations, we would test our knowledge by doing exams from previous years so we could understand the types of questions likely to be asked. By this process we could examine ourselves to see whether our knowledge was going to be adequate to gain a passing mark, or if we needed to do more work.
Likewise, in the scriptures, we are told in many and various places that we will be tested for the sake of what we believe. But here in 2 Corinthians 13:5-8, we are being told to “test ourselves” and to “examine our faith” to ensure we are holding fast to the truth of the faith that is in Jesus Christ. So let us look at that process and see what needs to be done to meet the test.
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. Continue reading “You’ll Never Walk Alone”
We are warned many times in the Bible about false teachers, false prophets, and here Paul also warns about false apostles.
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.
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.
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.
I travel a lot each year, often going into distant cities as well as the remote towns and communities of outback Australia.
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 “A Different Gospel”
Those of us who teach and preach the word of God need to listen very carefully to the words in this section of scripture.
Our work is ministry and ministering to the spiritual needs of those we come into contact with. Our work is to feed people with spiritual food so as to nourish and replenish the spirit’s of men and women, so that they do not starve and shrivel for lack of God’s sustenance.
We are stewards of God’s word and we need to use it to instruct, teach, encourage and help others so that they will grow to maturity in Jesus Christ. This is our mission, and these words today exemplify the extent and extremes of that mission. So you teachers out there, listen carefully and prayerfully. Continue reading “Faultless Ministry”
This scripture is a great lesson and reminder for those of us who teach and preach the gospel of Jesus Christ. It needs to be remembered, especially as there are many today who do not follow the teaching Paul is giving us here, which is to proclaim Christ first.
There are ministries today where the major focus of the ministry is not Jesus Christ but the “personalities” who run or work within the ministry. Some seem to be more focused on money, music, social activities, or other things and completely miss the point of Jesus Christ. This is not what Paul was teaching us here, and the big issue for us is that by NOT following Paul’s advice, a ministry can and will go astray from the truth.
It is simple advice too. Paul tells us that we need to proclaim not ourselves, but Jesus Christ with ourselves as His humble servants. Unfortunately, it does not always work that way.
This is a fascinating piece of scripture in these first few verses of 2 Corinthians 3. It forces us to think about the direction that the church has taken over the millenia since Christ appeared and makes you wonder what has gone wrong.
If you want to preach the gospel in many churches today, and especially if you want to work full time as a pastor, priest or minister, many of the churches require you to go to a university or their bible college to get a degree, diploma or similar qualification to preach the word. And many people in the churches also will not listen to someone unless they have received such a qualification.
But this is not how it was from the beginning. And we see that Paul emphasises this point in these verses. And when we look at other bible examples we see also that this requirement for a degree, diploma or qualification is not from God. In fact it can obscure the truth if we are not careful.
There was a practice in the church for many years where women were expected to wear some kind of head covering when they attended church. This practice has weakened and pretty much disappeared today, but even so there are some churches that still hold to this tradition quite strongly.
Much of the argument for this tradition comes out of this section of scripture. But is it what the scripture is truly saying? Does a woman have to wear a veil or a hat or some other kind of head covering today?
The question is probably even more compelling given the rise of Islam and the requirement of that religion for women to not just wear hats or veils, but to fully cover their faces with the burka. Now I do not intend to get into the discussion over whether the burka is right or wrong as my focus is not about what is done in Islam, but rather what is practiced in the name of Jesus Christ and the Christian churches. So let us look at this scripture to try to understand what Paul was driving at.