Paul’s Battle on Two Fronts

Gandhi said, “I would have been a Christian if it hadn’t been for Christians.”

The famous Indian leader understood one-half of Paul’s battle, against misbehaving Christians.

The other half of the battle involved crowds of people who opposed Jesus and his followers.

Trouble in Corinth

So-called Christian leaders stirred up trouble for the fledgling church in Corinth. They carried letters of recommendation, possibly from Jerusalem or Antioch.

Letters of recommendation were used to gain the support of patrons and to authenticate the credibility of a speaker. To obtain patronage would guarantee financial security and high status.

It is tragic to note that Paul had to defend his leadership in the face of these imposters.

2 Corinthians 4.1-2Therefore, since it is by God’s mercy that we are engaged in this ministry, we do not lose heart.

We have renounced the shameful, underhanded ways; we refuse to practice cunning or to falsify God’s word, but by the open statement of the truth we commend ourselves to the conscience of everyone in the sight of God.

The aim of Paul’s message was to influence the conscience of the congregation. Paul wanted the people to use their discernment and critical thinking.

The same discernment is needed today. Without entering into a critical spirit, Christians need to evaluate their leaders in the light of the person and work of Jesus.

Spiritual Blindness

Paul also labored among people who did not believe in the good news of God’s love.

2 Corinthians 4.3-4And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing.

In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing clearly the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.

The devil hates God, but can not touch God to harm him. Instead, the devil hurts the people whom God loves.

One of his tricks is to blind people to the facts of God’s salvation activity through Jesus.

In Jesus’ parable of the sower, the devil was the one who kept people from hearing and trusting the message of the gospel.

Matthew 13.19When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what is sown in the heart; this is what was sown on the path.

The primary reason why we pray for unbelievers is to ask God to nullify the works of the evil one and to open the eyes of the lost.

Good Preaching

If preachers and servants of the word of God adhered to the next two verses, good things would certainly happen.

2 Corinthians 4.5-6For we do not proclaim ourselves; we proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord and ourselves as your slaves for Jesus’s sake.

For it is the God who said, “Light will shine out of darkness,” who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.

(1) Notice first the role of a powerful experience of God’s love.

We are transformed because God shines his light in the depths of our being. Our knowledge is far more than “head” knowledge.

Our knowledge is based on a personal relationship with Jesus. We know “the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.”

(2) The ministry is not about us. It is about Jesus.

Charles Spurgeon once noted, “An arrow needs to be straight with good feathers, but a good archer is most important.”

In an ideal world, we prepare as well as possible to share the good news. After that, we place ourselves in the hands of the Archer, who aims and shoots us into the target of his love.

YouTube Video

Rudy Ross and I discuss this passage on YouTube today. It is on the Bob Spradling channel.

Please email your prayer request to bsprad49@gmail.com or private message me on Facebook. The Maywood prayer team will pray for you.

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