One last time, Paul defended his role in Corinth.
He wrote, “This is the third time I am coming to you. ‘Any charge must be sustained by the evidence of two or three witnesses'” (2 Corinthians 13.1).
In Paul’s case, he was being condemned because his behavior didn’t match the preferences of the Corinthian congregation. Paul believed that he was following the direction God gave him in his ministry.
Paul was able to point to the Scripture (Isaiah 53) and the example of Jesus as evidence for his behavior.
Rudy Ross has an excellent discussion of “two witnesses” in today’s YouTube video that can be seen on the Bob Spradling channel.
When discerning God’s will, Rudy looks for two witnesses or more to the guidance he seeks from God.
One witness is often his experience of the Holy Spirit and the second is the witness of the Bible.
The phrase, “God told me,” can be life-changing, but it can also be deceptive.
I am in the ministry because I believe God “told me” he wanted me to serve in that capacity. However, I can think of several occasions when I thought God “told me” something, but I was wrong.
The benefit of combining Scripture with experience is the two witnesses confirm each other.
The Corinthians congregation was active in evaluating Paul’s ministry. Paul turned the examination in the direction of church members.
He said, “Examine yourselves to see whether you are living in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not realize that Jesus Christ is in you? — unless, indeed, you fail to meet the test!” (2 Corinthians 13.5).
The Fourth Step in Alcoholics Anonymous calls for the participant to “[Make] a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.”
When we examine and test ourselves, we make a spiritual inventory. Below are questions I found from a Google search. You can probably find other spiritual inventory questions, but these are a pretty good example.
— Who have I been all this time?
— How have I used my gift of a human life?
— What do I need to “clear up” or “let go of” in order to be more peaceful?
— What gives my life meaning?
— For what am I grateful?
— What have I learned of truth and how truthfully have I learned to live?
The Corinthians would have done well to follow the instructions of AA concerning inventories. An AA participant is not to take another person’s inventory, only theirs.
Try taking a spiritual inventory for yourself. Also, don’t bother taking another person’s inventory.
I wish I would have counted the number of times Paul expressed his love for the Corinthians in his two letters.
He has written strong words to them, but his desire was always for their well-being.
He wrote, “So I write these things while I am away from you, so that when I come I may not have to be severe in using the authority that the Lord has given me for building up and not for tearing down.” (2 Corinthians 13.10).
What if the church reflected Paul’s message in the three verses of today’s article?
— What if everyone tested their views with a personal experience of the Holy Spirit that was confirmed by the message of the Bible?
— What if we examined our personal spiritual life and refrained from judging our fellow believers?
— What if we determined to do everything possible to build up others?
I think our world would be a better place.
Thanks for following this study in Corinthians. I have benefited from the discipline that study and writing afford me. Your reading of the blog keeps me accountable for this joyful task.
The Study of Galatians
Our next study will be on Paul’s short, but powerful, letter to the churches in southern Turkey (Galatia). I am looking forward to sharing what Rudy and I have learned about this book.
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