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Hang in There!

Discussion in 'Bible Study' started by SueJLove, May 30, 2015.

  1. Friday, May 29, 2015, 9:00 p.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Fully Ready,” and the song “All Through the Night.” Each of these songs speaks of persecution of the Lord’s servants. Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read 2 Corinthians 7:2-16 (ESV).

    Make Room (vv. 1-5)

    Make room in your hearts for us. We have wronged no one, we have corrupted no one, we have taken advantage of no one. I do not say this to condemn you, for I said before that you are in our hearts, to die together and to live together. I am acting with great boldness toward you; I have great pride in you; I am filled with comfort. In all our affliction, I am overflowing with joy.

    For even when we came into Macedonia, our bodies had no rest, but we were afflicted at every turn—fighting without and fear within.

    Paul began this letter to the church in Corinth by talking with them about suffering for the sake of the gospel of Jesus Christ and for our faith in him. Yet, he also spoke of how God comforted (consoled, encouraged, strengthened, inspired, and/or counseled) the apostles in their sufferings, so that they could offer the same comfort they had received from God to any who were also going through difficulties, hardships and/or persecutions. Then, Paul went on to describe the depth of the suffering they had endured, which was that they had despaired even of life. Yet, he acknowledged, that this happened that they might not rely on themselves, but on God, who raises the dead. So, there was a dual purpose in their trials and tribulations: 1) So they could comfort others with the comfort they had received from God, and so 2) They would learn to not rely on themselves but on God. Amen!

    Paul, it appears, wrote this letter as a follow-up to his previous letter. It seems, as well, that, among the followers of Christ in Corinth, some people in the church might have questioned his motivations for writing the previous letter, or that they might have felt that he was too harsh in his dealings with a specific situation he had addressed with them in that letter. A man in the church was in a sexual relationship with his father’s wife, and thus had to be put out of the church in order to spare his spiritual life and the spiritual life and holiness of the church, as a whole (See: 1 Co. 5). Yet, the man who had been put out of the church must have eventually repented of his sin, because Paul then encouraged the church to forgive the man and to restore him to fellowship, and to cease with the punishment.

    Paul, thus, in several places in this letter, came to his own defense to let the church know that his motivations were pure, and that he loved them very much, which is why he was so grieved over this situation, and which is why he had to do what he did for the sanctity of the whole body of believers there. Yet, he got no pleasure out of doing this, and he hoped he would not have to do it again. I empathize!

    As well, more than one time he mentioned the persecutions and afflictions the apostles suffered for the sake of Christ and for the sake of being ministers of the gospel of Jesus Christ in preaching the truth of God’s holy Word. I believe he did so to encourage them in their sufferings, but perhaps he did so also to demonstrate the sincerity of his and the other apostles’ commitments to Christ, to the gospel, and to the church. Paul was not one of these fly-by-night peddlers of a false gospel who would turn tail and run at the first sign of opposition. He was in it for the long haul, and he was willing to go through “hell on earth” if it meant the salvation of souls and the spiritual growth of the church, the body of Christ.

    So, he appealed to them, on the basis of his love for them and his commitment to their welfare, that they not withhold their love for him, but that they make room for him in their hearts. Yet, this was not just about them accepting Paul as a person and them liking him or approving of him. This, I believe, had to do with their acceptance of his apostolic authority. And, I believe that is why he went to such great lengths in this letter to demonstrate to the church the apostles’ commitment to the church, to Christ and to the gospel; and also the sincerity, holiness and purity of their motivations and their actions toward the church, as a whole, on their behalf. If they distrusted him, and if they did not acknowledge his authority over them in Christ, and willingly submit to his authority, then he could not have an effective ministry among them, and therefore he could be of no help or comfort to them.

    Even if I Grieved You (vv. 6-16)

    But God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus, and not only by his coming but also by the comfort with which he was comforted by you, as he told us of your longing, your mourning, your zeal for me, so that I rejoiced still more. For even if I made you grieve with my letter, I do not regret it—though I did regret it, for I see that that letter grieved you, though only for a while. As it is, I rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because you were grieved into repenting. For you felt a godly grief, so that you suffered no loss through us.

    For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death. For see what earnestness this godly grief has produced in you, but also what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what longing, what zeal, what punishment! At every point you have proved yourselves innocent in the matter. So although I wrote to you, it was not for the sake of the one who did the wrong, nor for the sake of the one who suffered the wrong, but in order that your earnestness for us might be revealed to you in the sight of God. Therefore we are comforted.

    And besides our own comfort, we rejoiced still more at the joy of Titus, because his spirit has been refreshed by you all. For whatever boasts I made to him about you, I was not put to shame. But just as everything we said to you was true, so also our boasting before Titus has proved true. And his affection for you is even greater, as he remembers the obedience of you all, how you received him with fear and trembling. I rejoice, because I have complete confidence in you.

    Let’s revisit for a moment the situation in question here. It seems to be generally accepted among theologians and Bible commentators that the situation to which Paul is referring here is that of the sin of the man who had his father’s wife, either that he had married his father’s wife or that he was in a sexual relationship with her outside of marriage. Yet, it was considered that the man was sinning greatly. So, what was the role of the church in all of this? They were proud, not necessarily of the situation, but of their church and ministry, perhaps, thinking they were doing pretty well. But, they evidently knew of this man’s sin, as it was out in the open, and yet they failed to grieve over the man’s sin and to do anything about it to correct it. They also failed to protect the rest of the fellowship from being influenced negatively by this man. Basically, through their silence, they were giving approval of this man’s sin, and that sent a message throughout the fellowship that it was ok to live (conduct their lives) in sin and to still enjoy the fellowship of the body of Christ.

    Yet, now Paul was writing to express his joy in hearing the good report of their repentance (their turning from their sin) and of their obedience to Paul’s instructions in putting the man out of the fellowship in order to spare the church and to spare the man’s life, too. Because they had repented of their sin, and had done as Paul had instructed them to do, they would not face any type of discipline. Yet, because they had repented, they had cleared themselves of all guilt in this matter. Their obedience not only saved this man’s life, and the life of the church, but it also demonstrated their willingness to submit to Paul’s authority in these matters, and this greatly encouraged his heart, for this was for their good. Without the proper exercise of authority within the church, and submission to that godly authority, the church is likely to be prey for wolves in sheep’s clothing and to the temptation to return to what is familiar to them, i.e. to sin. Yet, we must be cautioned against misuse of authority or submission to those who might lead us astray from our pure devotion to God.

    In Conclusion

    Not all of us are in positions of authority within the church, especially those of us who are females, as we should not be in positions of authority over the church, as a whole. So, we can’t always have that type of authoritative influence over what goes on within the church as did Paul and the other apostles. Yet, God has placed each and every one of us within the body of Christ for a purpose, and that purpose is that we might each encourage, serve, edify, love, and minister to one another for the purpose that we might all mature in Christ, conduct our lives in Christ’s righteousness and holiness, and walk in love and obedience to our Lord, and in love, one for the other. We are to speak the truth in love, one to the other, and speak to one another in psalms, hymns and spiritual songs, and make use of the gifts of the Spirit given to us by the Spirit, in the mutual encouragement and building up of the body of Christ, with each part doing its work assigned it (us) by God himself.

    Yet, we may face opposition and persecution within the body of Christ because we are obeying the Lord in showing great love and concern for the church in calling them to repentance, as did Paul, and in calling them to obey God, and to follow his instructions for godly and holy living. Remember that Jesus’ greatest persecutors and opposition came from within God’s temple, and came from within the leadership within the temple, so we should not be surprised if some of our greatest opposition and persecution comes from others who profess the name of Jesus, who meet regularly with the church, and even who are in positions of leadership within the church. We may even be kicked out of some fellowships because we stand on the Word of Truth, we point out sin, we call people to repentance, and we call them to walk in holiness and righteousness, all in the power of the Spirit within them. We may, as well, be insulted, accused falsely, be slandered, and have attempts made to try to discredit us and the message God has given to us from his word.

    So, what was Paul’s response to such persecution? For one, he put his trust in the Lord, and he continued to rely on the Lord in all matters, and he followed the Lord in obedience no matter how much it hurt, and no matter how often he was mistreated or spoken badly against. Why did he do this? – Because he loved God with all his heart, mind and strength, and because he loved his neighbor as himself. He did this because he loved the church and the unsaved so much that he was willing to lay down his life for them so that they, too, could have the hope of eternal salvation, and so that they could walk (conduct their lives) in Christ’s righteousness and holiness, free from the control and weight of sin over their lives. He didn’t give up just because things got harder. He kept going in the strength of the Lord, committing his life and ministry into the hands of the Lord, trusting that the Lord had a purpose for all things he allowed in Paul’s life, and that God would get the glory through it all, and that he would bring forth the fruit in Paul’s life and in the lives touched by his life.

    Secondly, where necessary, Paul continued to defend the Word of God, and the message of salvation from sin, and himself, and his calling, because when he was attacked, so was the message he was preaching, and thus his defense was largely so that the gospel of salvation from sin would not come under ill repute, and so it would not be discredited, but that it would continue to go forward, in the power of the Spirit of God within him, so that many would come to repentance and would follow the Lord Jesus Christ in obedience. As well, in his case, he had to defend himself and the message he was given in order to defend the authority of God in his life and ministry from those who would attack it and would try to move the church to reject him and his message and to follow other messages instead.

    We are not all apostles, so we don’t all have apostolic authority over the church, but we are all ministers of the gospel of Jesus Christ if we have the Spirit of God living within us by God’s grace, through faith in Jesus Christ. So, when we speak God’s words, if we are listening to God, and if we are searching out his word diligently, and if we are open to hearing from the Spirit what God has for us, and if we are obeying the Word ourselves, then we speak with authority, but not our own, but the authority of scripture, the Lord’s God-breathed words to us. So, we should defend that authority against all attacks against it.

    This is not to say we will always have things right, but we should always be open to the Lord correcting us where we are wrong, and we should be willing to change our thinking if the Lord teaches us, from his Word, something we didn’t know before. Yet, we should not be immature followers of Christ, tossed back and forth by various winds of doctrine, but we should stand firm on the Word of God and continue to speak with boldness the words given us by the Spirit, even in the face of great opposition, and even threats against our own lives.

    Fully Ready! / An Original Work / June 19, 2013
    Based off Acts 20-22, 26; Mt. 28:18-20; Ac. 1:8

    Why are you weeping and breaking my heart?
    I’m fully ready to suffer for Christ.
    If I must die for the sake of His name,
    I am convinced it will not be in vain.
    Glory to God and to His Son Jesus,
    Who has redeemed us; bought with His blood.

    May I speak to you? Jesus came to me;
    Asked of me, “Why do you persecute me?”
    He said, “Now get up and stand on your feet.
    Go, and you’ll be told all I have for you.
    I have appointed you as a servant,
    And as a witness; you have been sent.”

    “Go into the world and preach the gospel.
    Open the blind eyes. They will receive sight.
    Turn them from darkness to the light of Christ;
    From power of the evil one to God,
    So they may receive forgiveness of sins,
    And a place among those who’re in heav’n.”

    “Fully Ready” -

    “All Through the Night” -
  2. There is a song that comes to mind as I read your contribution here. "Farther Along." Familiar with it? It speaks of finding comfort in knowing that all those things that confound us, make us confused, frustrate us, will one day be clarified, when we are with Him.

    To speak directly to the involvement of women in the Church, there are many examples in Scripture of the influential women who were very important parts of Gods Plan. As to whether or not they should occupy roles as Pastors, I remain undecided and willing to leave that to God.

    I remember it was a "woman" who came up to me after Church one day, and handed me a piece of paper with a Scripture passage on it, and said to me, "God gave me this verse for you." That was different! I hadn't had that type of "message" before, from anyone (male OR female). Perhaps it was because she was more "Pentecostal" than I (being more from the Conservative background that I was), but regardless.

    I was sorta startled by getting a "verse" from someone, and so I went to my Dad (whom I love and respect) and said, "Dad, you're a Pastor, so I imagine this must've happened to you from time to time. What do I do with this?" His response, "Put it safely away somewhere and see if it comes true or not. If it does, you'll know it was from God."

    I still don't have any clear evidence that it has "come true." I may NEVER know, until that day that my Creator calls me home.

    SueJLove likes this.
  3. That woman sounds a lot like me. I would do something like that. I have done things like that. Sometimes they were received well, other times they were not. Oh, I believe God very much honors women and places them high in value and worth in his kingdom work, and he has gifted us equally with men, as far as spiritual gifts go, but I believe very much that scripture teaches that a woman should not be in a position of authority over a man, yet I believe women can preach because that is the gift of prophecy, I believe, or is one of the aspects of that gift, but that she should do so under the authority and with the permission of a man in authority, if it is done in the formal gatherings of the church. Yet, I am encouraged regularly when I read the gospels and see how very much Jesus honored women and treated them with tremendous respect and dignity, and how he used them even to share the good news with men.

    I am curious, though. Do you remember the scripture that woman gave you? Would you be willing to share it?
  4. P.S. Yes, I am familiar with the hymn "Farther Along." I just looked up the lyrics. Good message. I grew up singing the hymns in church and at home. Family recreation for us was often standing around the piano singing hymns while my mom played. I loved the Sunday night hymn sings where we could shout out our favorite hymn and we would all sing together. Those are good memories.
    Mykuhl likes this.
  5. It was from The Revelation. It said something like "I have seen your faith" and something like "see I place before you an open door, that no man can shut." (loose quote).


  6. Revelation 3:7-13:
    “And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: ‘The words of the holy one, the true one, who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, who shuts and no one opens.

    8 “‘I know your works. Behold, I have set before you an open door, which no one is able to shut. I know that you have but little power, and yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name. 9 Behold, I will make those of the synagogue of Satan who say that they are Jews and are not, but lie—behold, I will make them come and bow down before your feet, and they will learn that I have loved you. 10 Because you have kept my word about patient endurance, I will keep you from the hour of trial that is coming on the whole world, to try those who dwell on the earth. 11 I am coming soon. Hold fast what you have, so that no one may seize your crown. 12 The one who conquers, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God. Never shall he go out of it, and I will write on him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down from my God out of heaven, and my own new name. 13 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’

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