The Church's One Foundation Devoted to ending schism in Christ's body where you live. Mon, 13 Aug 2018 23:10:18 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Corinth over Troas Mon, 27 Mar 2017 11:19:19 +0000

“Now when I came to Troas for the gospel of Christ and when a door was opened for me in the Lord, I had no rest for my spirit, not finding Titus my brother; but taking my leave of them, I went on to Macedonia.”
(2 Cor. 2:12-13)

This is Paul telling the Corinthians Christians that his love for them was all-consuming. In this section (2 Cor. 2:12-17) e explains why he had previously used such a severe tone in his prior letter to the Corinthians – a letter not included in the canon of Scripture. But instead of writing a series of reproofs to the church (as they deserved), instead he gave several statements that explain his all-consuming love of genuine gospel ministry.

In Troas there was an open door – likely, the start of a church. But Paul passed over the city so he could meet Titus on his way back from Corinth with news. Had the Corinthians repented, or were they headed for apostolic discipline?

Here’s Paul point – a genuine man of the gospel cannot just move in and plant the gospel with another people and leave those he has ministered to before – without awful grief of heart.


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Addressing Gospel Realities Sat, 25 Mar 2017 12:36:29 +0000

“But one whom you forgive anything, I forgive also; for indeed what I have forgiven, if I have forgiven anything, I did it for your sakes in the presence of Christ, so that no advantage would be taken of us by Satan, for we are not ignorant of his schemes.”
(2 Cor. 2:10-11).

This is the last of four reasons Paul didn’t visit the Christians in Corinth – thwarting Satan’s strategies.

Satan is always seeking to form and reinforce unbelief in people’s minds, and Christians fall prey all too easily to these kinds of schemes. So before Paul will visit them, he will require the Corinthians to forgive the man who sinned against him in his prior visit. Which is another way of saying that he wants the body of Christ in Corinth to apply the gospel to the member of Christ’s body in Corinth, for the man is deeply sorrowful (v. 6).

The word for ‘schemes’ here is derived from the word “mind.” Paul is not speaking about how to defeat Satan through methods and strategies, as if that could be done, but through proper beliefs, specifically, beliefs formed by the gospel.

Satan seeks to make churches places that deny forgiveness to the broken – this is what Paul means when he says, “so that no advantage would be taken of us by Satan.” Churches will preach forgiveness but yet be taken “advantage” of by either sowing doubt in God’s redemptive purpose to forgive sin instead of heal it, or to use ‘groupthink’ to punish one who is already forgiven.

How wrong that is – but how much like the devil to reinforce those thoughts.

Notice Paul’s humility – he doesn’t have to hear the man who made his own life miserable personally ask his forgiveness in his presence. Instead he declares a blanket forgiveness – “in the presence of Christ” – so as to quash doubt, and secure the man’s release.

This is the last reason Paul has delayed in coming to Corinth.

For elders: Notice Paul’s lack of equivocation and plain-spokenness to the church. He is not double-tongued – giving one explanation to his inner circle of friends and another explanation to the church. What he speaks to one he speaks to all, for he carries out his ministry in the “presence of Christ.” Double -tongued elders carry out their ministries in the fear of people, seeking their approval lest their fears – the fears of the elders – come to pass.

Such men cannot minister the gospel of grace, but rather, can only minister the shell of the gospel – they forgive in word, but not in deed. They also hide from others who seek to call them to repentance.

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Addressing Apostolic Realities Fri, 24 Mar 2017 16:14:50 +0000

“For to this end also I wrote, so that I might put you to the test, whether you are obedient in all things.”
(2 Cor. 2:9)

This is the third of four reasons Paul didn’t visit the Christians in Corinth – they needed to be tested. Would they first be obedient to an apostolic letter before his next apostolic visit?

It’s a test all churches face today, too. Either we will respond obediently to the written words of the apostles, or will we compromise and require divine chastening, or worse.

Paul had written a letter only a few months earlier expressing how the church ought to respond to a man who had sinned among them – and against Paul. The letter required obedience to Christ’s teaching in Mat. 18 on dealing with a sinning brother. This was Paul’s training ground for the church – to see if they will obey the word written by an apostle.

It’s a critical point in every church’s maturity and stability – to learn to respond to the apostolic Scripture obediently.


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Addressing Ecclesiastical Realities Thu, 23 Mar 2017 18:20:16 +0000

“But if any has caused sorrow, he has caused sorrow not to me, but in some degree– in order not to say too much– to all of you. Sufficient for such a one is this punishment which was inflicted by the majority”
(2  Cor. 2:5-6)

This is the second of four reasons Paul didn’t visit the Christians in Corinth for a third time. There were ecclesiastical realities that needed addressing, and because he didn’t want to prematurely confront sin, he chose to stay away for the mean time, and instead instruct the church on restoring a man among them.

What had happened?

Apparently, this man (in the church) had publicly sinned against Paul in his prior visit – that’s what made it so painful. That, and the fact that no one in the church had rebuked them man. But Paul’s letter to the church in between 1 and 2 Corinthians had challenged the church to handle the sin themselves. Thankfully, most in the church done exactly that, and had administered the proper punishment, a withdrawal of fellowship (2 Thess. 3:14). 

The punishment in this text, which was inflicted by the majority, was not a church vote. It was a verbal reproof consistent with Christ’s words in Mat. 18:17: “if he will not listen to the church.” The word “punishment” in all its forms occurs 30 times in the New Testament, and in all other occurrences is a verbal reproof. So too, here in its noun form, it should be understood as a verbal reproof here, too.

The scene here is one of ecclesiastical obedience being affirmed – the church of Corinth acting obediently to Christ, not to modern political theory. Votes don’t change hearts – but reproofs often do – and it certainly did here.

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Addressing Emotional Realities Thu, 23 Mar 2017 01:12:45 +0000

“But I determined this for my own sake, that I would not come to you in sorrow again. For if I cause you sorrow, who then makes me glad but the one whom I made sorrowful?”
(2 Cor. 2:1-2)

This is the first of four reasons Paul didn’t visit the Christians in Corinth – there were emotional realities that needed addressing. He basically says “I don’t want another painful visit” – showing that his prior visit to the church in Corinth was exquisitely painful.

From this it is certain that Paul paid the Corinthians an unannounced visit to them after writing 1 Corinthians. And I know it’s all a bit confusing, but Paul is not saying his first visit to them was sorrowful. Instead, Paul’s first visit to them was the planting of the church, and was a blessing. He’s speaking of a second visit not mentioned elsewhere in the New Testament, that went badly.

The pain was on a lot of levels – some of which everybody will understand, and some of which only those who have served in ministry will understand.

Emotionally, Paul expected the church to be a source of joy for him, and not pain. He writes, “who then makes me glad?” And he’s afraid that the only way he’s going to get joy from a second visit is by inflicting pain on them – something he wants to avoid – “that I would not come to you in sorrow again.”

The idea of relitigating their sorrow is counterproductive to building them up. I’t either vindictive or unduly punitive, and are representative of what ministers do who despise the gospel of justification by faith alone.

The idea that adding to a Christian’s pain will produce joy is hardly a straight forward path in ministry – yet Paul’s use of “I” in verse two is emphatic and explains why he left Corinth after his second (unannounced) visit. He left with his tail between his legs. And he left depressed, beat up, rejected, and so very dishonored.

So, rather come back to them for another visit (his third), he wrote them this letter. It did indeed cause pain, but not unnecessary pain. And certainly less pain than a personal visit would have brought.

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Everything Paul Did Was for Their Joy Tue, 21 Mar 2017 19:38:56 +0000

“But I call God as witness to my soul, that to spare you I came no more to Corinth. Not that we lord it over your faith, but are workers with you for your joy; for in your faith you are standing firm.”
(2 Corinthians 1:23-24)

This is Paul’s oath before the church in Corinth – calling God to be the legal witness to this letter, and as such, to send his soul to hell if he were lying, deceptive, or false about how he communicates with them.

What was Paul NOT lying about? That “to spare you I came no more to Corinth” – so as not to enact discipline on them for prior disobedience. This is why he didn’t come to Corinth a second time – to spare them agony.

Paul’s strategy with the church was not revenge for personal wrong, but patience, and long-suffering love. He was not a taskmaster over religious devotees, but a “worker with you for your joy!” Everything Paul did was for their joy – and Paul knew he had to give them time, a letter, in order to give the Holy Spirit time to work out obedience in their hearts.

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Amen! or Whatever? Sat, 18 Mar 2017 12:30:39 +0000

“For as many as are the promises of God, in Him they are yes; therefore also through Him is our Amen to the glory of God through us.”
(2 Cor 1:20)

Image result for amenEvery Christian is the inheritor of rich promises, the value of which are greater than the world. God stands behind them, for in Him they are yes. Our response as those possessing the Spirit, through God, is an “Amen.”

The Amen here is the response of a believer in Sunday worship – the word means truth, as in ‘tru dat.’ Such a response glorifies God as the guarantor of His promises.

So here’s Paul’s point, in a question. ‘How come the Corinthians give an Amen to God every Sunday?’

Evolution? Spontaneous generation?

Or did it not give evidence to this? Paul and Silvanus and Timothy – and others such as Apollos – taught them God’s promises in Christ, so much so, all the believers gave the Amen “through us”?

So too with you – measure yourself by this next Sunday. When the promises of God in Christ are read or preached, what do you say, ‘Amen,’ or ‘Whatever’?

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Our Word to You is not ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ Fri, 17 Mar 2017 15:50:48 +0000

Image result for yes noThis is from 2 Corinthians:

“But as God is faithful, our word to you is not yes and no. For the Son of God, Christ Jesus, who was preached among you by us– by me and Silvanus and Timothy– was not yes and no, but is yes in Him.”
(2 Cor. 1:18-19)

Paul attaches his own promise – even on a matter as “unspiritual” as ministry travel plans – to the awesome promises of God fulfilled in Jesus Christ – a stunning statement.

Confused? The idea is this:

“Just as we preached to you the Son of God, and in Him everything was ‘yes'” (meaning, all of God’s promises are fulfilled in Him, and when you believed on the Son of God, you experienced that ‘yes!’ when His Resurrection became your regeneration) “so just we preached to you truth as in the presence of Christ on all lesser matters, we always spoke truth to you – always, and in every situation, and without equivocation. Even on travel plans!”

It’s an argument from the greater to the lesser. Paul’s saying, “You trusted us (Paul, Silvanus, Timothy) when we preached the gospel to you, and that proved true. So even, when I speak about something as seemingly mundane as ministry decisions, you can trust me on that, too.”

The man of God is required to speak plainly and truthfully in all situations. Double tongued men exhibit the fear of man and so craft ministry decisions to suit various audiences. Or they just hide, either behind the office, or other people. But a shepherd who loves people tells the same message to all about all things – whether heaven and hell – or even mundane ministry decisions.

Why? His ministry decisions are made in the fear of Christ, not in the fear of man.

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The Brand-Marks of Jesus Fri, 17 Mar 2017 13:11:30 +0000

“From now on let no one cause trouble for me, for I bear on my body the brand-marks of Jesus” (Gal. 6:17).

Image result for stigmata paulThis is Paul’s final word in Galatians to the false teachers – and it ends the letter where it began – with the uncompromising sound of apostolic authority.

In distinction from monastaried monks and secluded nuns who claim to bear the marks of Jesus, Paul got his marks by persecution, not false mortification. Paul got his marks by preaching truth, not going on mystical journeys in his mind.

And so the readers of this majestic epistle has a choice to make by the end of Gal. 6:17. You either go with Paul and beleive in the gospel of justification by faith alone, or off you go with the false teachers.

One either embraces justification by faith from the heart, and the world is crucified to you and you to the world. Or one embrace himself, and imagines himself succeeding at the bar of God’s justice on the final Day.

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Why Should He Go Forward? Wed, 15 Mar 2017 13:43:12 +0000

Image result for via dolorosaConsider the glory of Jesus Christ for a moment. On the way to His crucifixion He stumbles and falls, physically spent. The deep-flesh scourgings, which followed face slaps and a night spent standing upright through six different trials, have worn Him down. Under the weight of the cross-member, He stumbles. He is likely wounded further by the fall, having lost all strength to carry Himself a step forward.

Why should He go forward? This would have been the perfect time to summon the twelve legions of angels, or otherwise lay down and go no further, so He might not to go to the cross. Who of us, when taken to physical exhaustion, doesn’t serve ourselves in order to be relieved from continuing agony?ut no, there is no self-pity, no hatred for the soldiers, no self preservation. The patibulum is placed on a passerby, and the Atoning Sacrifice regathers enough strength to reach His goal. He stands up and walks forward. This is no innocent scapegoat who runs away to live another day, but our Righteous Man who forges ahead to His self-sacrifice.

This is the Jesus Christ whose entire Being pursued the cross… and attained it. He offered Himself as a spent but righteous Man, and was slain by the Father. This is the Jesus Christ who wanted the cross more than anything else on earth.

He got it, and through it, attained the Father’s resurrection and our redemption.


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