Memphis Belle

Untitled Document
2nd Corithians 1:1-7
2 Corinthians 1:1-14
2nd Corinthians 1:15-24
2nd Corinthians 3:1-18
2nd Corinthians 4
2nd Corinthians 5:12-21
2nd Corinthians 6:4-18
2 Corinthians 7:1-16
2 Corinthians 8:16-24
2 Corinthians 10:1-18
2 Corinthians 11:1-33
2 Corinthian 12:1-21
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2nd Corinthians 12:1-21

 

“It is not expedient for me doubtless to glory.  I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord.  I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell:  God knoweth;) such an one caught up to the third heaven.  And I knew such a man (whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell:  God knoweth;) how that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.  Of such an one will I glory:  yet of myself I will not glory, but in mine infirmities.  For though I would desire to glory, I shall not be a fool; for I will say the truth:  but now I forbear, lest any man should think of me above that which he seeth me to be, or that he heareth of me.  And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.  For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me.  And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee:  for my strength is made perfect in weakness.  Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.  Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake:  for when I am weak, then am I strong.  I am become a fool in glorying; ye have compelled me:  for I ought to have been commended of you:  for in nothing am I behind the very chiefest apostles, though I be nothing.  Truly the signs of an apostle were wrought among you in all patience, in signs, and wonders, and mighty deeds.  For what is it wherein ye were inferior to other churches, except it be that I myself was not burdensome to you?  forgive me this wrong.  Behold, the third time I am ready to come to you; and I will not be burdensome to you:  for I seek not yours, but you:  for the children ought not to lay up for the parents, but the parents for the children.  And I will very gladly spend and be spent for you; though the more abundantly I love you, the less I be loved.  But be it so, I did not burden you:  nevertheless, being crafty, I caught you with guile.  Did I make a gain of you by any of them whom I sent unto you?  I desired Titus, and with him I sent a brother.  Did Titus make a gain of you?  walked we not in the same spirit?  walked we not in the same steps?  Again, think ye that we excuse ourselves unto you?  we speak before God in Christ:  but we do all things, dearly beloved, for your edifying.  For I fear, lest, when I come, I shall not find you such as I would, and that I shall be found unto you such as ye would not:  lest there be debates, envyings, wraths, strifes, backbitings, whisperings, swellings, tumults:  and lest, when I come again, my God will humble me among you, and that I shall bewail many which have sinned already, and have not repented of the uncleanness and fornication and lasciviousness which they have committed.” 

 

I’m Going To Expose Those Who Go Around With The “Heavy Revies”

 

“2nd Corinthians chapter 12, Paul has been, as he says, foolishly boasting about some of the hardships that he’s endured for the cause of Christ, and to come as far as Corinth.  And again, writing this second letter to the Corinthians, somewhere around Acts chapter 19, so some of the hardships we hear about after that aren’t even included in the list here.  Imagine, so many of these things have taken place before Acts 19, and realize we don’t even hear about them in the Book of Acts.  Here’s Paul saying, ‘Look,’ hoping to take away some of the ground from the false teachers who had nothing for the Corinthians, in fact they were there to take advantage of them, they were after their wallet, after their money to be benefited by them, not caring for them, false teachers, Judaizers.  Paul says, ‘I’ve gone through all of these things and suffered all of these things,’ and he said, ‘Yes, and I’m boasting, but you’ve listened to them boast, so now listen to me, it’s not the Lord [speaking through me], they’ve got me so mad, I’m in the flesh now.  But I’m gonna let you have it, and you’re going to hear the truth in regards to the difficulties of the ministry.’  And now in chapter 12 he says, ‘Now let me come to visions and to revelations,’ because evidently some of those false teachers were bragging about the Heavy Revies that they have.  And these folks are  around today.  There’s plenty of them, that you know they have these revelations, and then they come to you.  You know, I remember in the old building there was a guy skirting the area like every wind and doctrine blows through the Church [and he was saying] he had been in heaven for seven days and nights, I believe, he said he was there, and, that’s what his tapes had said.  And I think it was eight tapes or something about what he saw and what he experienced there, and the tape set was like seventy bucks or something.  And I thought, ‘Lord, couldn’t you give us the tapes cheaper if you really want us to know what happened?  This guy is really overcharging for what he saw there.’  And of course I was being facetious.  My daughter, who was young then, said, ‘Dad, doesn’t it say in Revelation there’s no night or day there?’  I said, ‘Very good, honey.  But he wasn’t in the same city we’re going to.’ [laughter]  But there’s all kinds of guys around now with Heavy Revies, you know, and prophecies and revelations and all the latest and greatest things that have been hidden from the Church for two thousand years, and God decided to show them right before the end, you know, we’ve been paupers all these centuries, without the truths that they have.  Of course again, I’m being sarcastic.  Paul says, ‘OK, let’s come to visions and, and let’s come to revelations,’  “It is not expedient for me doubtless to glory.  I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord.” (verse 1)  Now, he’s going to tell us by verse 7 he’s talking about himself, he wants to boast so little, he doesn’t even start by telling us that it was himself.  “I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell:  God knoweth;) such an one caught up to the third heaven.  And I knew such a man, (whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell:  God knoweth;) how that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.” (verses 2-4)  ‘It would be a crime,’ Paul says, ‘to try to tell you what I saw there.’  It’s interesting, because Paul of course, in his conversion on the road to Damascus, the Lord appeared to him in a blinding light, he fell down on the ground, and the Lord spoke to him.  Speaking of revelations, Paul could do a lot of bragging, boy, he could have a set of tapes.  [by the way, Calvary Chapel of Philadelphia has a tape/CD ministry where you can buy copies of these connective expository sermons, and the price was about $2.50 a tape, while they were still doing tapes.  They’ve switched entirely over to CDs now, and I think the price is $3.50, just enough to cover the cost of the CD and mailing expenses.  They don’t make any money off this ministry, totally not-for-profit, unlike these Heavy Revy charlatans.  Now you can access the website for their congregation and download them right onto your computer or iPod for free, imagine that!  That’s what genuine ministry ought to be like.]  And as he sat for those three days, remember when Ananias came, the Lord said, ‘Go tell him what great things he’s going to suffer for me.’  And he gave us a list of them here [in the last chapter].  We remember that when he was passing through Bithynia, the Spirit of Jesus forbid them to go into Bithynia, but then a man from Macedonia appeared to Paul in a dream, a vision, and directed his missionary journey, had a vision there.  [Bithynia was a province in Asia Minor north of Galatia, on the seacoast of the Black Sea.  Macedonia was over the Hellespont  and to the west a bit.  So God was telling Paul to go left over to Macedonia instead of going north and to the right into Bithynia.]  After he wrote these things, remember when he went to Jerusalem, he started the riot, and he was in the dungeon at night, bummed out.  It says, ‘Jesus appeared to him, and said, ‘Paul, you did a good job.’  That isn’t what I would have thought, I would have thought, ‘Started a riot today, ruined my whole chance.’  No, the Lord said, ‘Be of good cheer, you’ve given testimony here, you’re going to give testimony in Rome also.’  As they are in their journey to Rome, the ship gets into the storm, Paul tells everybody to take courage, he said, ‘The angel of the Lord stood with me tonight and told me that we’re all going to survive,’ speaking of visions.  But this one is kind of the one that sticks with him, there’s something about this one, he said, ‘I want to brag about visions, there was this man I knew, about 14 years ago, whether he was in the body or whether out of the body, I don’t know.’  Paul says, ‘The experience of it, I don’t know whether I was still in my body and heaven was open and I was experiencing these things, or I was actually caught right into the scene out of the body, I don’t know, so overwhelming, so incredible was the vision, I don’t know.’  But he was caught up to the third heaven.  The first heaven, the atmosphere, around the earth, the sky, the second heaven, the stellar heavens, the third heaven, God’s heaven, the throne of God, Paradise itself.  ‘I knew this man’, again he says, ‘whether he’s in the body or out of the body I don’t know, God knows…caught up to Paradise.’  The word’s used when Jesus says to the thief on the cross, ‘Today [I say to you,] you will be with me in Paradise.’  The word is used there.  It’s used in Revelation chapter 2, verse 8, where the promise is made to the church at Ephesus, that those who take heed to the things that the Lord is saying would be brought into the Paradise of God in the garden of God, in heaven.  [Comment:  Now don’t forget, the New Jerusalem, the heavenly City where the throne of God is now, this same Paradise, is coming down to earth after the Millennium and Great White Throne judgment, as described in Revelation 21:1-23.  So “the third heaven” ends up on earth, quite literally.  That’s where we’ll be dwelling, after we have ruled with the Lord for a thousand years, during the Millennium.]  So that Paradise, whatever it is, is a place Divine, it’s a place where there’s beauty beyond human speech, it’s something about the Garden of God in the midst of the Holy City of Jerusalem [i.e. the heavenly New Jerusalem], we’re not sure, Paul caught up there.  He doesn’t tell us what he heard, he heard something there.  Now, one of the remarkable things to me is I look at this, here’s a guy, evidently, whose kept quiet about this for about fourteen years.  A lot of guys would start a denomination over something like this.  They certainly would have written a book or made a movie or something by now.  Paul, evidently, this is the first we hear of it for fourteen years, he doesn’t bring this up, caught up to Paradise, saw things it would be a crime to try to tell you about in human language.  That’s why God chose John to write down the Book of Revelation, he was the ‘mystic’, Paul was the ‘pragmatist.’  If God would have given to Paul on Patmos the vision of Revelation, Paul would have sat down and said ‘It would be a crime to try to write this down.’  That’s what we would have found out.  Now, this vision, this place, this experience in Paradise, it is fuel for Paul.  ‘Our outward man perishes,’ he wrote in chapter 4 of this book, ‘the inward man is renewed day by day, while we look, not at the things that are seen, but at the things that are not seen.’  The things that are seen, they are temporary, the things that are not seen are eternal.  God had fueled Paul’s heart, he had given him something.  This “vision” is God’s grace to Paul, and these experiences that drove him.  Acts chapter 14, around verse 9, was about that many years before this [when he’s writing about this experience in 2nd Corinthians 12], at Lystra, where Paul was stoned.  They drug him out of the city, threw him in the trash heap, thought he was dead.  I’m sure he didn’t know whether he was in the body or out of the body then.  And those who were with him, believers, stood around him, doesn’t say, but I’m sure they were weeping, Paul opened his eyes and stood up, came back, and said, ‘Let’s go back into the city, I was only halfway through my sermon.’  It’s hard to stop a guy like this.  Either that, or whatever he saw there, he said, ‘Come back with the stones, finish the job!’  It was possibly then, we’re not sure.  But we say, ‘Lord, I would like to see an angel, Lord, if you’d only let me see this, if you’d only let me hear your voice tonight, just say out of the darkness of my bedroom, ‘I love you.’’  you’d probably have a heart attack.  Or ‘Lord, just let me see an angel, just waving in my window, just give me a sign, I know your Word says this, but oh Lord if I just,’ you know, we’d probably have a cardiac arrest if anything like that happened.  [As seen with both Daniel and John the apostle, when either one of them saw an angel for the first time, each one hit the deck, fell flat on his face in fear.  I think it was Daniel that had to be sat up and revived, he passed right out, cold J.  Look it up, it’s in God’s Word.]  And if it happened, what would it mean to us, and what would we do with it?  Look at the children of Israel, for 38 years, at least, their food fell out of the sky, six days a week, over forty tons to feed that many people daily, manna.  They followed a pillar of fire by night, a pillar of cloud by day, they walked through the Red Sea [dryshod].  And when they were in the desert, they said, ‘We miss Egypt, there was garlic there, and onions.’  I mean, we’re out of our minds.  What would a spiritual experience mean to you?  You know, what has to happen is we have to be changed from within, through the new birth, through the Holy Spirit, through the Word of God.  It isn’t just spiritual experience.  And I’m all for spiritual experience, I’m not against it.  [But when it serves a purpose.]  And no doubt God allows it to happen, within the wisdom and counsels of his grace he knows as an individual we may need that.  But Paul here says, ‘I didn’t know whether I was in the body, or out of the body.’  No soul sleep, by the way here, we can see that Paul recognizes that.  Ah, ‘I was caught up to Paradise,’ how far away?  I don’t know how far away it is.  ‘I heard unspeakable words which is not lawful for a man to utter, it would be a crime for my to try to tell you what I experienced there,’ Paradise, in the body, out of the body, how far away?---heaven.  You know, when we think of heaven, it’s an interesting equation, because we know the Scripture tells us ‘If my people who are called by my name would humble themselves and pray and turn from their wicked ways and seek my face, then I would hear, from heaven.’  So however far away heaven is, God hears from there.  However far away from us it is, he can hear us from where he is.  However far away it is, we can here him.  We hear Elijah saying that God spoke to him in a still small voice.  God can speak to our hearts and prompt us through his Holy Spirit, however far away heaven is.  [Comment:  God is tapped into the mind of every human being alive through the human spirit he places within every human, to give that human the human intellect and human mind computing power to think and reason at the human level, far above that of animal brain-mind power.  He is also tapped into the mind of every Holy Spirit indwelt believer in Jesus via that same Holy Spirit.  Distance is not a factor.]  But Paul, it’s opened up to him, he has this tremendous experience.  These guys, he says, they’re bragging about visions and revelations, Paul says, ‘I had one.’  He had more than one. 

 

Be Careful About Asking For Visions, There’s A Cost

 

“Of such an one will I glory:  yet of myself I will not glory, but in mine infirmities.” (verse 5)  ‘I will glory in my infirmities.’  “For though I would desire to glory, I shall not be a fool; for I will say the truth:  but now I will forbear, lest any man should think of me above that which he seeth me to be, or that he heareth of me.  And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.  For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me.  And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee:  for my strength is made perfect in weakness.  Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” (verses 6-9)  Here’s Paul, ok, ‘I was caught up to Paradise.’  By the way, when we go to, in the past, when we’ve gone to Yugoslavia, when it was Yugoslavia, it’s Serbo-Croatia, it’s interesting because Jerry Paradise is with us, and in Serbo-Croatian, Paradise is the word for tomatoes, so everybody calls him Jerry Tomato there.  That’s just free information I thought you’d appreciate.  Paul says, ‘I was caught up.  Do I try to describe it to you?  I heard things that are unspeakable.’  Imagine having a blind friend, and trying to say to that person, ‘Ah, you should see that sunset.’  ‘Well what do you mean?’  ‘Well it’s when the sun kind of goes down on the horizon.’  ‘What’s the horizon look like?’  ‘Well this is what it looks like.  And the sky is pink, and orange, and purple.’  ‘What is pink, and what is orange, and what is purple?’  ‘Well they’re colors.’  ‘Well, tell me, help me.’  How would you, what words would you have to use to describe things that we’ve never seen and then  communicate them and make those things known?  You know there are things that God does in our lives that are for us, and they’re not for everybody else, not even sometimes for our wives or our husbands or our children.  My wife and I enjoy an intimacy, and that intimacy is for any of the things that are not for anyone else but for the two of us.  And there are those things in our relationship with the Lord.  Paul understands.  ‘I besought the Lord three times that he would take away this thorn in the flesh, and God revealed to me, over a period of time,’ that those things were given to Paul to keep him humble, so he wouldn’t be puffed up in regards to the revelations that he had.  Look at the cost.  ‘Lord, let me see a vision, let me see an angel, let me see this…’  Do we really want to see that [no way, not on your life, I’ve got enough thorns buggin’ me].  ‘Lord, let me see heaven.’  Are you ready for the thorn that goes with it?  You know, the revelation may put fuel in your tank, but then there’s the thorn that provides the humility necessary to have had something like that happen in your life.  So, a thorn for fourteen years?  And the word there is “tent-stake” by the way, it’s not a little thorn, it’s big thing.  ‘There is given me a tent-stake in the flesh.’  What is that?  He doesn’t specifically say.  Is it from the stoning at Lystra?  A permanent damage?  We’re not sure.  In Galatians chapter 4 he mentions there, he says, ‘You know that it was through infirmity of the flesh that I first preached the gospel to you.’  He doesn’t say, ‘In spite of that fact that I was sick,’ Paul says ‘it was through my infirmity that I ended up here, God used this thing in my life to bring me to you, and the churches were born in the area of Galatia because of the infirmity that I had.’  And then he says, ‘I bear witness that you would have, if possible, plucked out your own eyes for me.’  So, many feel he had some kind of an eye problem.  Was it initiated when the Lord appeared to him on the road to Damascus?  Did it sear his eyes, did it do something that stayed with him the rest of his life?  Or was it from being stoned a Lystra, or was it a disease.  There was a disease in that part of the world back then that would leave for the rest of your lives your eyes just watering and running.  We don’t know.  Was that stake in the flesh ‘the messenger from Satan’ that buffeted him?  Because many scholars feel the grammar may divide those two statements.  “There was given me this thorn in the flesh,” this tent-stake in my flesh, an infirmity, some kind physical problem, impairment.  And, on top of that, “a messenger from Satan to buffet me.”  And that word “buffet” means to continually slap around, to say, ‘You think you’re the great apostle, you can’t even see, look at those ugly watery eyes.  You’re going to go tell people that God loves? he don’t even love you.’  You can imagine what…how are we buffeted sometimes, when something’s going wrong in our life, and the enemy is there to tell us that God doesn’t love us, he doesn’t care about us.  You know, whatever it was, this is a tough combination.  If I said to you, ‘Hey, caught up to the third heaven, get in line.’  ‘Well is there a price?’  ‘Well yes, there’s a price, tent-stake in your flesh, messenger from Satan to buffet you for the rest of your life.  But I’m telling you, you can go see things there, but you can’t tell anyone about them because they’re unspeakable, but you can go there, have this revelation.  You want it?’  Do I want it?  No, no, ‘I’m going to heaven anyway [i.e. the heavenly City, the New Jerusalem], I don’t need to get a tent-stake, I’m going there, I’m gonna be there anyhow, I don’t need this stake in the flesh.  You know, if God decides this is his grace and anything he wants for my life he wants for my life, ok, but I ain’t looking for it.  ‘There’s a cost.  These guys want to glory about revelations and about visions, let me tell you, it’s what happened.  And the reason I don’t glory about it, is because I had to be afflicted to stay humble about it.  I’m not gonna be a fool and brag about it, lest somebody think about me above anybody else, I’m just like anybody else, I don’t want anybody thinking about me above that which they should.  In fact, God has allowed me to have a daily reminder in my life that all I am is flesh, I’m just a man, saved, washed, filled with the Spirit, saved by grace, a sinner.   But I had a revelation.  Let me tell you a little bit about it.’

 

My Strength Is Made Perfect Through Weakness

 

“And lest I should be exalted above measure” verse 7, “through the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh,” no faith confessions here folks, notice that.  ‘I don’t have a thorn, I don’t have a thorn,’ but Paul said, ‘I have a thorn.’  “and a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.  For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me.” (verses 7-8)  Now the grammar “I besought the Lord” means over a period of time, “I besought the Lord thrice that it might depart from me.”  He sought the Lord three times over, over what, the last fourteen years, about this problem, this thorn in the flesh, this particular suffering in his life.  Verse 9, he finally tells us the answer he got.  “And he” the Lord, “said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee:  for my strength is made perfect in weakness.  Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” (verse 9)  “My grace is sufficient”, that word “sufficient” there is the Greek word that means “to lift up, to bear up,” or “to carry.”  ‘My grace is sufficient, Paul, it will carry you, it will bear you up.’  “My strength is made perfect in weakness.”  What is he telling us?  Interesting.  Paul thought that he could serve the Lord better if he was healed.  He sought the Lord three times.  He said, ‘But Lord, if you take this away, Lord if you heal me, Lord if you lift this off me, I could get around better, I could see better, wouldn’t have to sign with this big writing at the end of some of these letters, wouldn’t have to have people read for me or write for me.  I could really get my heart through the quill then.  I could read maps myself, wouldn’t get lost all the time.’  He thought he could serve the Lord better if he was healed.  God thought different, thought different from Kenneth Copeland, thought different from Kenneth Hagen, God thought different.  Secondly, I look at him and I think, unanswered prayer, even if we pray something for fourteen years, doesn’t mean that God’s not listening.  And how often do we pray for something for fourteen years?  I’ll pray for fourteen minutes and figure he’s not listening.  In Christ, weakness can be strength, walking with the Lord weakness can be strength, like a sling to kill a giant, like a stick, to bring Egypt to its knees and part the Red Sea.  With the Lord, weakness can be strength.  And in any situation where we’re struggling, his grace is enough, because it glorifies the Father in heaven, that his grace would be the thing that would bear us up and carry us and sustain us.  Now, “Most gladly” verse 9, “therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.  There I will take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake:  for when I am weak, then am I strong.” (verses 9b-10)  Now let me tell you something, as we’re studying this tonight, and as I’m teaching this, it is theory with me.  I have not arrived there.  I do not glory in infirmities, and I don’t get excited about them.  ‘Oh Lord, a tent-stake, yes!  Make it last at least fourteen years, and don’t listen to me if I ask you to take it away!’  It reminds me of The Young Frankenstein when he says, ‘OK I’m going to go in this room with the monster, and shut the door and lock it, and no matter what I say don’t let me out again.’  ‘Let me out of here!!!’  I’m not there yet.  I could sit here and say, ‘Oh Lord, OK I understand this passage now, you can give me whatever affliction you want, and I’m just gonna glory in that, I’m going to be so excited about it,’ and tomorrow say, ‘Lord, take it away, I was just kidding, I don’t know what I’m talking about, Frank should have given that study, just get that away from me Lord.’   I’m such a wimp.  I do believe that his grace is enough.  And I do believe, as he says in Titus, ‘It’s grace that brings us to salvation, it’s grace that sustains us in this ungodly world, teaching us to deny ungodly lusts in our lives.’  And it’s grace, and only grace, that causes us to look forward to the coming of our Great God and Saviour Jesus Christ.  I believe that it’s grace from beginning to end.  But he’s given me grace, and you grace, to go through everything we’ve gone through up until today.  And if he carries us into deeper circumstances, I believe that he will be faithful to give us the grace necessary when those things come.  But I don’t have the grace right now to take pleasure in infirmity.  I’m miserable when I’m sick.  When my wife is sick, I take care of her.  ‘Honey, do you want tea?   Want chicken soup?  You want music, what can I pray for you?’  When I’m sick, she thinks that I want all that stuff she wants.  And I don’t want any of that.  I want to be miserable, that’s all I want.  You know, nail the door of the bedroom shut, let me growl, let me be miserable, I do not want chicken soup, I hate chickens, I don’t want Ginger Ale, just leave me alone.  I hardly ever get sick, and when I do it, I want to do it right.  I just want to be miserable.  And Paul says, ‘You know, I’ve discovered that when I get to that end of the road where I’ve never been before,’ and he told us in the beginning of the Epistle that he despaired of life itself, ‘when I get to water that’s deeper than any water I’ve ever been in, what I have learned, that God is so faithful to me in those experiences, and that he reveals something of himself to me that I never would have seen if I still had my own resources.  And it’s only when I run out of my own resources, and I’m left appalled at my own weakness and my own lack of strength, and my own inability, my own lack of humility, that it’s in those circumstances that his strength is make perfect, in that I see something about Jesus Christ I never would have seen if I hadn’t run out of my own resources.  I have learned therefore to glory in infirmities.’  Paul says, ‘What I see of Christ, and have seen of Christ, is worth more than physical comfort to me.  It’s worth more than being able to cope with something in my own know-how and my own strength.  The dependency that it draws from me, the way it causes me to lay hold of Jesus Christ and what I see about him, that I would not have seen, if it wasn’t for those difficulties, causes me rather to glory in my infirmities.’  Verse 10, “Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake:  for when I am weak, then am I strong.” That inner strength, that work that God does within him. 

 

I’m An Apostle Too, I Gave Birth To You Through The Gospel---I Spend Myself For You---I Came To Edify

 

“I am become a fool in glorying; ye have compelled me:  for I ought to have been commended of you:  for in nothing am I behind the very chiefest apostles, though I am nothing.” (verse 11)  You know, ‘I shouldn’t have to glory, rather it should have been you guys bragging about me, I’m not behind any of the chiefest apostles, though I be nothing, in and of myself,’  “Truly the signs of an apostle were wrought among you in all patience, in signs and wonders, and mighty deeds.”  (verse 12)  There was a miraculous ministry that accompanied the apostles, it was necessary for them to have been an eye-witness from the Baptism of John to the resurrection, Acts chapter 1 as you read there.  And there were signs and wonders that accompanied them.  There are many people today who may claim to be an apostle, but those apostles were the Foundation of the Church, the Prophets and Apostles.  Their names are written on the 12 foundations of the Holy City [i.e. the New Jerusalem, cf. Revelation 21:1-23], and there’s only 12 stones.  They had authority to write Scripture, and to lay the foundation of the Church.  And though someone today may have a message or an emphasis that is healthy for the Church [greater Body of Christ], they’re not apostles in the sense that these men were apostles in the governmental and foundational sense.  Paul says, ‘the signs of an apostle, they were wrought in my ministry,’  “For what is it wherein ye were inferior to other churches, except it be that I myself was not burdensome to you? forgive me this wrong.” (verse 13)  Now this is interesting, what he’s saying is this, he’s saying ‘You didn’t fall behind any of the other churches, miracles were manifest there in Corinth, the signs of my apostleship were manifest in signs and wonders and power and miracles there.’  He said, ‘The only way you were lacking other churches, were that in other churches, they supported me, there were offerings [and probably tithes] that supported my ministry, and in Corinth I didn’t take anything from you.’  When he would write to Timothy he would say “Don’t muzzle the ox that treadeth out the grain” talking about those who work in the ministry, that the elder who labours in the Word of God and prayer is worthy of double honour, of support, and that the labourer is worthy of his hire.  Paul is saying to these Corinthians, ‘Now look, is this where you lack?  Is this where you’ve been gypped, that I didn’t take money from you?  I wasn’t burdensome to you.  Forgive me for this wrong,’ he’s being facetious.  “Behold, the third time I am ready to come to you; and I will not be burdensome to you:  for I seek not yours, but you:  for the children ought not to lay up for the parents, but the parents for the children.” (verse 14)  ‘I don’t want anything from you, what I want is you, unlike the false teachers…for children,’ my kids are here tonight, so, I’ll read this quickly, “for the children ought not to lay up for the parents, but the parents for the children.”  And that’s the way it should be, I’m only joking of course [about reading through his quickly].  And Paul, he said, ‘You have ten thousand instructors, you have not many fathers,’ and he looked at this Corinthian church as something that he brought forth with the gospel of Christ, and he said, ‘It isn’t your job to lay up for me, that’s what the false teachers want, but the parent cares for the children.’  “And I will very gladly spend and be spent for you:  though the more abundantly I love you, the less I be loved.” (verse 15)  And I believe of course that’s with tremendous heartache, as he says that.  You know, he traveled, gave birth to many churches, and this particular church in Corinth, he was very much in love with it in his heart.  That was the church where the Lord said ‘Go back into the city, I have much people there,’ and he had laboured there over two years. And I think great pathos, you know, ‘I’ll be spent, I’ll spend myself, be spent for you, but the more abundantly I love you, the less I be loved.’   You know, some of his own heartache.  “But be it so, I did not burden you:  nevertheless, being crafty, I caught you with guile.” (verse 16)  ‘You know, I’m saying these things to be facetious.’  “Did I make a gain of you by them whom I sent unto you?  I desired Titus, and with him  I sent a brother.  Did Titus make a gain of you? walked we not in the same spirit? walked we not in the same steps?” (verses 17-18)  ‘They reflected my heart, we never wanted anything from you, but everything for you.’  “Again, think ye that we excuse ourselves unto you?  we speak before God and Christ:  but we do all things, dearly beloved, for your edifying.” (verse 19) ‘for the building up of the church,’ Paul says, ‘we want everything for you, nothing from you.  And we spend ourselves and give ourselves completely for the edifying of the church.’  To edify means to build up, to build them up, spiritually.  That’s what he is longing for. 

 

You Can’t Be Edified, Built Up In Christ, If There’s Envying, Strife, Bitterness and Backbiting---Or Sexual Sins

 

“For I fear, lest, when I come, I shall not find you such as I would, and that I shall be found unto you such as ye would not:” ’I’m afraid when I get there I’m not going to find you the way I want to, and that you’re not going to find me the way you want to find me.’ “lest there be debates, envyings, wraths, strifes, backbitings, whispererings, swellings, tumults:” (verse 20)  this is a tough church, man, this Corinthian church.  You know, in the first Epistle he outlined the fact that they were divided, they were drunk at the Communion [Christian Passover] table, they were suing one another, they were a church that was filled with strife.  Paul said, ‘Look, I’ve written for the third time, I’m coming to you, I’m not like these false teachers who want something from you.’  And you know, isn’t it interesting that the Corinthian church could give money to a false teacher, and then kind of be placated in their sin, they could continue to live in sin, and their conscience was a little eased because they had given.  Paul said, ‘I don’t want anything from you, I want everything for you.  And we speak in God, in Christ, for you to be edified, to be built up in spiritual things.’  And Paul knows, they can’t be built up in spiritual things if there’s envying and strife and bitterness and backbiting.  You know, the Lord says he hates, he said [in Proverbs 6:16-19], you know, “These seven things are an abomination…and [especially] those who sow discord among brethren.”  The Lord hates envying and division.  The person next to you is paid for in the same blood that you’re paid for in, he or she is just as important to God as you.  The person next to you didn’t need the blood of Jesus more than you did.  The person next to you, if they’re saved, is filled with the same Holy Spirit that you’re filled with.  The person next to you has the same destiny that you do.  The person next to you will never glory in his presence, no flesh shall glory in his presence, just like your flesh won’t glory in his presence.  And God has paid the most severe price imaginable in his Son to make us one.  John 17, read through the chapter.  And Paul says, ‘We are spending ourselves, we want nothing from you. What we want from you is your benefit, your spiritual growth, your maturity, to see you edified.’  But what Paul’s saying, what he means is, the tongue has to stop, the backbitings have to stop, the striving has to stop.  That’s not to your benefit, that’s carnal.  It may benefit you temporarily in the flesh to get money from someone else, or to do this, but Paul says, ‘We want to see you built up spiritually.’  So he outlines these kind of social sins in regards to their communion with one another.  And then in verse 21 he outlines sexual sins, And lest when I come again, my God will humble me among you, and that I shall bewail many which have sinned already, and have not repented of the uncleanness and fornication and lasciviousness which they have committed.” (verse 21)  Paul, again, challenging them about sexual sin, and those in the church who think they can continue, that they can without God’s rod coming down on their lives, continue to live in sexual sin, to take the grace of God, you know, for granted, to be abusive to the Body of Christ, to mess with the Bride of Christ.  If you’re not married to someone and you’re living in sexual sin, that’s spiritual incest, if you’re a spiritual brother, a spiritual sister, it’s a sin against God, it’s unclean, it destroys, it destroys all of us, it effects all of us.  No one sins to themselves.  And Paul says, ‘When I come there I don’t want to be humbled of God and have to bewail someone.’ 

 

Two Reasons Christians Die

 

What he’s talking about, he outlines it in 1st Corinthians chapter 11, he says, when he talks about taking Communion [that was the Christian Passover back then] in an unworthy fashion.  And again, the Lord willing, if he tarries, we’ll have Communion next Wednesday night.  At the end of our Communion services we see people get saved, they come forward, and people always say, ‘Oh, they partook of Communion unworthily!’  No they didn’t.  An unbeliever can’t partake unworthily.  Paul is talking about the believer partaking unworthily, because we’re the one’s who belong to Christ.  He says ‘Let a man examine himself, then we’ including himself, ‘won’t be judged,’ talking about the brethren, because they were getting drunk at the Communion table, they were abusing one another, they were neglecting the Body of Christ, not discerning the Body of Christ.  And Paul said, ‘Because of that, many of you are sickly and sleep [had died],’ God had judged some of them.  [Comment: The reason I say this was the Christian Passover they were observing is that in 1st Corinthians 11:20-32, taking it in context with the language, it is talking about this being a memorial of the night before Jesus’ death, which he kept, observing this as the last Passover he kept as a human with the 12 disciples.  There is a link in that early church history article on this site which shows Paul writing a letter saying ‘They should continue to observe the Days of Unleavened Bread.’  Passover was a big part of that, so the early Christian Church was still observing this Christian Passover, which after Constantine and the proto-Catholic church, devolved it into a Communion service.  See http://www.unityinchrist.com/history2/earlychurch1.htm which contains that link, going to J.B. Lightfoot’s translation “Life of Polycarp”.  The quote in the article-link is taken from the first paragraph of Lightfoot’s translation.  This is significant evidence as to the observations of the early Christian Church in Asia Minor, all the way to Corinth.  That’s why I say “Christian Passover” when Pastor Joe mentions Communion, because that’s what the early Church was literally observing in the time of Peter and Paul.  The proto-Catholic church in the time of Constantine changed things and dumped the practices John, Paul and Peter held sacred.]  You know, there’s two reasons why people die.  One of them is you die [chuckles], you finish your course.  It says, in Psalm 139 that all of our days are written out.  It says our life is like a tale that’s been told, that all our days are numbered, and we fulfill our course.  Paul wanted to fulfill his course with joy, ‘If by any means I might fulfill my course with joy.’  That’s one of the reasons we die, we finish our course.  The other reason is, we get in the way.  We get in the way.  God is a Shepherd.  If one person is going to become injurious to the cause of Christ, or injurious to many other people, sometimes God removes them.  I’ve seen it.  I watched it in my pastor’s life, I watched a man stand up and accuse him, because he wouldn’t embrace a particular Jesus-only doctrine, and challenged him in front of the church, and said he had a vision, and if Chuck didn’t repent in two weeks, the vision was there was a coffin, and he would be dead, he saw Chuck’s face in the coffin [talking about Pastor Chuck Smith.  See, http://www.unityinchrist.com/history/smith.htm], went public with his threat.  Two weeks later, Chuck did his funeral.  Chuck said he had a vision and saw the wrong face in the coffin.  I saw just several years ago, a high-power lawyer, take on Chuck, Costa Mesa, lawsuits, on behalf of somebody else.  52 years old, famous, smart, powerful lawyer, unjust, no grounds, would not relent, he dropped dead.  To mess with the Body of Christ, now I’m not telling you guys to go, ‘Oooh, Lord’s gonna…’ no, no, I’m talking about the bad guys, we’re the good guys.  I’m just saying, you know, God takes it seriously, if somebody messes with his Bride.  Men, husbands, you take it seriously if somebody messes with your bride.  Paul says, ‘I don’t want to have to bewail those of you who have not repented.’  Look at Ananias and Sapphira, I mean, Paul says, ‘If this sexual uncleanness, this perversion is allowed to go on in the church, and there’s no repentance,’ he says, ‘when I come I might have to bewail some of you.’

 

2nd Corinthians 13:1-14

 

“This is the third time I am coming to you.  In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established.  I told you before, and foretell you, as if I were present, the second time; and being absent now I write to them, which heretofore have sinned, and to all other, that, if I come again, I will not spare:  since ye seek proof of Christ speaking in me, which to you-ward is not weak, but is mighty in you.  For though he was crucified through weakness, yet he liveth by the power of God.  For we also are weak in him, but we shall live with him by the power of God toward you.  Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves.  Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?  But I trust that ye shall know that we are not reprobates.  Now I pray to God that ye do no evil; not that we should appear approved, but that ye should do that which is honest, though we be as reprobates.  For we can do nothing against the truth, but for the truth.  For we are glad, when we are weak, and ye are strong:  and this also we wish, even your perfection.  Therefore I write these things being absent, lest being present I should use sharpness, according to the power which the Lord hath given me to edification and not to destruction.  Finally, brethren, farewell.  Be perfect, be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace, and the God of love and peace shall be with you.  Greet one another with an holy kiss.  All the saints salute you.  The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all.  Amen.”

 

Examine Yourselves Whether You Be In The Faith

 

“This is the third time I am coming to you.  In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established.  I told you before, and foretell you, as if I were present, the second time; and being absent now I write to them, which heretofore have sinned, and to all other, that if I come again, I will not spare:” (verses 1-2)  The critics claim that Paul was weak and powerless.  And Paul said, in this last chapter, ‘I am weak, but it’s in my weakness his strength is made perfect.  They’re right, I’m weak, but when I come, in his strength, I’m not gonna spare.’  “Since ye seek a proof of Christ speaking in me, which to you-ward is not weak, but is mighty in you.  For though he was crucified through weakness, yet he liveth by the power of God.  For we also are weak in him, but we shall live with him by the power of God toward you.” (verses 3-4)  Paul says, ‘Same power operating in our lives, as we are yielded and given over to Christ.’  “Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves.  Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?” (verse 5)  This is very sobering.  Examine yourselves.  Paul says, ‘You’ve examined me, you’ve criticized me, you’ve had lots of say about what’s wrong with me.’  He says, ‘Examine yourselves, unless you be found reprobate.’  And the word “reprobate” means “counterfeit”, or like you’ve tested the amount of purity in a coin and found out it’s not real, that there’s not enough pureness there, it’s not genuine.  And Paul is saying to these Corinthians that had criticized him, that had put him under the microscope, ‘Examine yourselves, prove your own faith.’  You know, and how many times do we see friends or relatives, it’s easy for them to stand back and criticize a televangelist who sins.  And maybe their criticism is right.  And it shouldn’t happen, and it is a reproach to Christ.  And we all struggle with it.  Because then an unbeliever uses it as ammunition, ‘So if you’re one of those,’ no, I ain’t one of those, not in the sense you’re saying.  But how many of those that point the finger, need to examine their own life, ‘Is there something spiritual that’s genuine in my life?  Will I be found, the day I stand before God, to be counterfeit or genuine?  Am I in the faith?  Or am I just a critic?’  You know, if a friend brought you here tonight, and it’s a good time to ask yourself that question, ‘Do I know Christ or don’t I?’  You know, you could have grown up in the Church your entire life, and not know Jesus.  You know, if you sleep in the garage, it doesn’t mean you’re a car.  You can sit in church week after week, month after month, year after year and not be a believer.  I did it.  I had religion.  I had offering envelopes with my name on them.  I made my first Communion.  But I didn’t know Jesus.  I was not in the faith, it wasn’t genuine, it was outward, it wasn’t inward.  If I’d have been tested, my metal was tested, it was not pure, it was not genuine.  I was reprobate, I was counterfeit, I did not measure up.  And look, that would be a sad thing for anybody here this evening, because you know you see what’s going on in the world.  You know, I’m excited, in a sense.  I encourage you as you see the military folks from our church, and their faces up on the wall, you quickly jot down their names and remember to pray for them.  We saw seven of our Marines today die in a plane crash.  Remember to pray for Israel, we see the trouble there.  And yet the other side of the coin, is all of these things hark of the return of Christ.  All of these things are speaking to us of a world of human beings that are unable to govern themselves.  And Jesus said that’s why he would come.  Because if he wouldn’t return there’d be no flesh left alive (cf. Matthew 24:22).  We have tonight.  Will we be here next week?  Or is it ok with you if we’re not here next week?  Is it ok with you if you come here next week and nobody’s here but you?  Help yourself to the bookstore, help yourself to the tape library.  You can get any of the tapes on the Rapture that you can find.  You know, I’m lightening up a little bit, but my challenge is, you know, examine yourself to see whether you’re in the faith.  You can sit there and say, ‘Ah, I ain’t gonna go up there, my cousin goes to Calvary Chapel, they’re screwballs, I go with him because he pays for me to go to Friendly’s afterwards.’  But you know, look, it’s not enough to play religious games.  And you can’t join the Church [Body of Christ], you have to be born into it.  My four kids, none of them joined my family, they were all born into my family.  Jesus said unless someone is born-again, born from above, they’ll never see the Kingdom of God, that it has to be real.  An organization can’t do it for you, a pastor can’t do it for you, a priest can’t do it for you, you have to do it for yourself.  You come to Jesus Christ as a sinner.  [see http://www.unityinchrist.com/misc/WhatIsTheGospel%20.htm and http://www.unityinchrist.com/baptism/What%20is%20Baptism.htm]  Instead of examining and criticizing everybody else, you examine yourself, and you say ‘OK Lord, this is all real, you’re there, you love me, I want to be saved.  I need forgiveness, I need that which is phony and ungenuine in me to be removed, I need something real.  This can’t be phony, Lord.  Because when I face eternity, when I step through the veil into outer darkness, when that happens, I want to know your arms are going to be there to catch me.  I want to know that I am forgiven when I step into your presence, that the blood of Jesus has washed me and cleansed me.’  Let a man examine himself.  Very sobering.  And we’re going to give you a chance to do that, you need to be thinking, as the musicians come, not now, but at the end of the evening, if you don’t know Christ, we’re going to give you an opportunity to make that decision, and stand, and say ‘Yup, that’s what I want, I want to be saved.  I don’t want to play religious games, I don’t want anything phony, I don’t want to stand around pointing my finger at other people.  Tonight I’m pointing my finger at me and saying, ‘Lord, this needs to change, I’m tired of the emptiness, tired of the sin, tired of the struggle, tired of the phoniness, I’m tired, tired of the burden, the guilt.   Take it away, fill me with your Spirit, give me peace, let me know you.’

 

Closing Remarks

 

Verse 6, “But I trust that ye shall know that we are not reprobates.  Now I pray to God that ye do no evil; not that we should appear approved, but that ye should do that which is honest, though we be as reprobates.” (verses 6-7)  ‘If you are going to accuse us, we pray that  still your life is what it should be.’  “For we can do nothing against the truth, but for the truth.” (verse 8)  ‘There isn’t anything to be done against the truth.  ‘Well I don’t care, I don’t believe in God.’  He don’t go away because of that.  There’s nothing you can do against the truth.  ‘Well I don’t believe heaven and hell are real.’  “Yet” as somebody very brilliant once said.  “For we can do nothing against the truth.  For we are glad, when we are weak, and ye are strong:  and this also we wish, even your perfection.” (verses 8-9)  Paul said, ‘That’s wonderful to us, we want to see that happen in your lives.’  “and this also we wish, even your perfection.  Therefore I write these things being absent, lest being present I should use sharpness, according to the power which the Lord hath given me to edification, and not to destruction.” (verses 9b-10)  But [this power, authority, the Lord’s given him] it’s to build up, to edification, not to destruction.  ‘The authority that Christ has given me is to build, not to tear down, it’s not my heart.’  “Finally, brethren, farewell.  Be perfect, be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace shall be with you.” (verse 11)  ‘Be perfect.’  Well I’m quitting right there.’  No, it means “to grow up,” speaks of “growing up spiritually [i.e. “be mature.”]”  Paul says to the Corinthian church, ‘Grow up’ spiritually.  “Be of good comfort, be of one mind,” certainly they needed to do that.  “Live in peace”, that would be a wonderful thing in Corinth.  “Greet one another with an holy kiss.”  (verse 12)  We don’t have those anymore, we have holy handshakes now.  We see you kiss somebody here you’re going to be under suspicion.  You know, it wasn’t long after this that one of the Caesars outlawed kissing in Rome, because there was an outbreak of herpes-simplex-1, everybody was getting blisters.  Shake hands, please, and then wash your hands when you go home.  [laughter]  ‘Greet one another with a holy handshake,’ “All the saints salute you.  The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all.  Amen.” (verses 13-14)  The triune God here.  That’s good stuff, isn’t it?  “The grace of Jesus Christ,” I’ll take it.  I’ll take all I can get, grace upon grace.  “The love of God,” need it bad.  Enjoy it, revel in it.  “and the communion of the Holy Ghost,” with God and one another, what a wonderful thing…[transcript of a connective expository sermon on 2nd Corinthians 12:1-21 and 13:1-14, given by Pastor Joe Focht, Calvary Chapel of Philadelphia, 13500 Philmont Avenue, Philadelphia, PA  19116]

 

Related links:

 

http://www.unityinchrist.com/baptism/What%20is%20Baptism.htm

 

http://www.unityinchrist.com/misc/WhatIsTheGospel%20.htm     

 

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