The Sufferer’s Prayer & the Gospel of Suffering

Today’s selected reading continues in the second New Testament epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the saints which were at Corinth. More specifically today’s passage is found in the eleventh chapter of this New Testament book. “Would to God ye could bear with me a little in my folly: and indeed bear with me. For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him. For I suppose I was not a whit behind the very chiefest apostles. But though I be rude in speech, yet not in knowledge; but we have been thoroughly made manifest among you in all things. Have I committed an offence in abasing myself that ye might be exalted, because I have preached to you the gospel of God freely? I robbed other churches, taking wages of them, to do you service. And when I was present with you, and wanted, I was chargeable to no man: for that which was lacking to me the brethren which came from Macedonia supplied: and in all things I have kept myself from being burdensome unto you, and so will I keep myself. As the truth of Christ is in me, no man shall stop me of this boasting in the regions of Achaia. Wherefore? Because I love you not? God knoweth. But what I do, that I will do, that I may cut off occasion from them which desire occasion; that wherein they glory, they may be found even as we. For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works” (2 Corinthians 11:1-15).

 

            “I say again, Let no man think me a fool; if otherwise, yet as a fool receive me, that I may boast myself a little. That which I speak, I speak it not after the Lord, but as it were foolishly, in this confidence of boasting. Seeing that many glory after the flesh, I will glory also. For ye suffer fools gladly, seeing ye yourselves are wise. For ye suffer, if a man bring you into bondage, if a man devour you, if a man take of you, if a man exalt himself, if a man smite you on the face. I speak as concerning reproach, as though we had been weak. Howbeit whereinsoever any is bold, (I speak foolishly,) I am bold also. Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they the seed of Abraham? So am i. Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more; in labour more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft. Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; in journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches. Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is offended, and I burn not? If I must needs glory, I will glory of the things which concern mine infirmities. The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which is blessed for evermore, knoweth that I lie not. In Damascus the governor under Aretas the king kept the city of the Damascenes with a garrison, desirous to apprehend me: and through a window in a basket was I let down by the wall and escaped his hands” (2Corinthians 11:16-33).

 

            THE DANGERS OF ANOTHER SPIRIT! THE DANGERS OF ANOTHER JESUS! THE DANGERS OF ANOTHER GOSPEL! “For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works” (2 Corinthians 11:13-15). THE SUFFERING OF THE RIGHTEOUS! THE SUFFERING OF THE GOSPEL! THE SUFFERING APOSTLE AND THE SUFFERING CHRIST! ARE MINISTERS WILLING TO SUFFER WITH THEIR LORD? RECEIVING THE GOSPEL IN MUCH AFFLICTION, CONFLICT, SUFFERING, PERSECUTION AND OPPOSITION! A GOSPEL OF ACCOMODATION! A GOSPEL OF NO SUFFERING! A GOSPEL OF COMFORT!

 

            When you come to the eleventh chapter of the second epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the Corinthian saints you will come to one of the most affectionate chapters in either of the two epistles written unto these dear saints. As you take the time to read the words which are found in this chapter you will immediately be struck with the tremendous language of affection and tenderness that was found in the heart of the apostle Paul towards these beloved saints. Upon beginning to read the words which are found in this passage of Scripture you will find the apostle Paul beginning by inviting them to bear with him in his folly. The words which come immediately after that are such that provide us with the care, the compassion and concern within the heart of the apostle Paul toward this congregation. In all reality the apostle Paul was careful and concerned about all the churches wherein he labored and ministered, however, when we think about and come to the Corinthian congregation we find that those who received the word concerning the Lord Jesus not only received it in much affliction, tribulation and opposition but they also received it over a period of a year and a half. If you take the time to read the eighteenth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts you will encounter the narrative of the apostle Paul coming unto the city of Corinth after departing from Athens in what is known today as modern day Greece. Having come from the city of Athens where he proclaimed unto the Athenians concerning the unknown God whom they worshipped and the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob and God the Father of the Lord Jesus Christ who is not only known but is worshipped in temples made without human hands.

 

            I am absolutely and completely convinced that if we desire to understand the words and language found in the eleventh chapter of this second epistle written by the apostle Paul we must needs turn and direct our attention back to the eighteenth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts. The words and language we find in this particular chapter bring us face to face with the truly awesome and powerful truth concerning the time the apostle Paul spent in the city of Corinth. What’s more is that while in the city of Corinth the apostle Paul would first find Aquila and his wife Priscilla there whom he would labor and toil together with—not only in the work of the ministry but also in regular, manual labor. Upon reading the words which are found in the eighteenth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts you will encounter the tremendous truth surrounding the apostle Paul coming unto the city of Corinth where he would labor in both the natural as well as the physical with Aqulia for they were both by nature tent makers. It is absolutely remarkable and astounding to think about and consider this particular reality for it helps us to understand the great zeal, the great affection, the great concern and the great love the apostle Paul had for these dear saints. With this in mind I invite you to consider the following words which are found in the eighteenth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts beginning to read with and from the first and opening verse:

 

            “After these things Paul departed from Athens, and came to Corinth; and found a certain Jew named Aquila, born in Pontus, lately come from Italy, with his wife Priscilla; (because that Claudius had commanded all Jews to depart from Rome) and came unto them. And because he was of the same craft, he abode with them, and wrought: for by their occupation they were tentmakers. And he reasoned in the synagogue every sabbath, and persuaded the Jews and the Greeks. And when Silas and Timotheus were come from Macedonia, Paul was pressed in the spirit, and testified to the Jews that Jesus was Christ. And when they opposed themselves, and blasphemed, he shook his raiment, and said unto them, Your blood be upon your own heads; I am clean: from henceforth I will go unto the Gentiles. And he departed thence, and entered into a certain man’s house named Justus, one that worshipped God, whose house joined hard to the synagogue. And Crispus, the chief ruler of the synagogue, believed on the Lord with all his house; and many of the Corinthians hearing believed, and were baptized. Then spake the Lord to Paul in the night by a vision,  Be not afraid, but speak, and hold not thy peace: For I am with thee, and no man shall set on thee to hurt thee: for I have much people in this city. And he continued there a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them” (Acts 18:1-11).

 

            “And when Gallio was the deputy of Achaia, the Jews made insurrection with one accord against Paul, and brought him to the judgment seat, saying, This fellow persuadeth men to worship God contrary to the law. And when Paul was now about to open his mouth, Gallio said unto the Jews, If it were a matter of wrong or wicked lewdness, O ye Jews, reason would that I should bear with you: But if it be a question of words and names, and of your law, look ye to it; for I will be no judge of such matters. And he drave them from the judgment seat. Then all the Greeks took Sosthenes, the chief ruler of the synagogue, and beat him before the judgment seat. And Gallio cared for none of those things” (Acts 18:12-17).

 

            I am absolutely and completely convinced we must needs read and consider the words which are found in the eighteenth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts for when we think about the time the apostle Paul spent in the city of Corinth and the preaching of the word of the Lord Jesus we must needs understand that as his custom was he entered into the synagogues on the sabbath and reasoned together with the Jews concerning the things of the kingdom of God. When Silas and Timothy arrived in Corinth from Thessalonica where they had previously been we discover the apostle Paul being pressed in the spirit and arguing and contending that Jesus was the Christ and the Lord. It would be upon this declaration that Jesus of Nazareth was indeed the Christ and the Lord we find the opposition and resistance of the Jews to the gospel and declaration of the apostle Paul. It would be upon the declaration and contending that Jesus was indeed the Lord and Christ the unbelieving Jews not only opposed themselves but also blasphemed in the presence of the apostle Paul. What’s more is that when you read the narrative written concerning the apostle Paul in Corinth you will find that they even dragged him before the judgement seat seeking to cast judgment against him. Not only this but they would also bring Sosthenes before Gallio and beat him thinking they would somehow get a response from him.

 

            What makes the narrative of the apostle Paul in the city of Corinth so incredibly awesome and powerful is when you consider how despite the opposition and resistance of the Jews toward and against the gospel of the Lord Jesus He would appear unto the apostle Paul by night in a vision. The beloved physician Luke writes and records concerning the time the apostle Paul spent in the city of Corinth how the Lord Jesus appeared unto him in the night by a vision encouraging and instructing him. As you read the words found in this passage of Scripture you will find the Lord Jesus instructing the apostle Paul to continue speaking and preaching and to hold not his tongue. Furthermore the Lord Jesus instructed the apostle Paul to not be afraid of the resistance and opposition of the Jews which were in that place. In addition to this the Lord Jesus would go on to declare unto the apostle Paul that there would be no man who would lay upon him to hurt him for He had much people in that place. Pause for a moment and consider just how incredibly powerful these words and language truly are when you take the time to hear and listen to the message the Lord Jesus had spoken unto the apostle Paul. The Lord Jesus emphatically declared unto the apostle Paul that He had much people in this city thus indicating that the work and labor of the apostle Paul would not be in vain. How absolutely incredible it is to consider the words which the Lord Jesus spoke unto the apostle Paul for those words which were spoken unto him would be the foundation upon which he would stand among them in their midst—and not only stand among them but continue preaching the word and gospel of the Lord Jesus.

 

            If there is one thing that truly astonishes and amazes me about the narrative of the apostle Paul in the city of Corinth it’s the tremendous affliction and opposition the apostle Paul received and experienced toward the word of the gospel of the Lord Jesus. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this for there is something truly awesome and powerful about how the Corinthians received the gospel concerning the kingdom. As you read the words found in this passage of Scripture you will initially find the apostle Paul entering into the synagogues of the Jews every sabbath—undoubtedly teaching and preaching unto them the things concerning the kingdom of heaven. What’s more is that it would be when Silas and Timothy would come from Thessalonica the apostle Paul would be pressed in the spirit and would argue and contend concerning this Jesus that He was indeed both Lord and Christ. What truly amazes and astonishes me about this particular truth is when you consider the tremendous affliction, opposition and resistance those in Corinth endured that they might receive the word of the Lord Jesus. What I mean by this is it would be one thing for those in Corinth to receive the word of the Lord Jesus in peace, in quietness, in rest and in comfort, however, it is something else entirely about hearing and receiving the word concerning the Lord Jesus in affliction, in trials, in tribulation, in opposition and resistance. In all reality I would argue and contend that although we find example after example of the word of the gospel of the Lord Jesus being preached by the apostles and the saints of the early church that preaching would not be without resistance and opposition.

 

            From the fourth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts we find the beginning of this resistance and opposition of the Jews toward and against the preaching of the word of the Lord Jesus by the religious leaders which were present in the city of Jerusalem. When the word of the gospel of the Lord Jesus was first preached in the city of Jerusalem after the day of Pentecost we find the apostles being persecuted and afflicted by the Pharisees, the Sadducees and the religious leaders during those days. What adds even more weight to this is that when you read the New Testament book of Acts you will find that the vast majority of the resistance which was experienced by the apostles and the early Church came not from Gentiles but rather came from the Jews themselves. The initial resistance and opposition to the word and gospel of the Lord Jesus would come from the religious leaders and establishment in the city of Jerusalem as the apostles would not only be imprisoned but would also be beaten and threatened not to preach the gospel of the Lord Jesus. Chapters four and five of the New Testament book of Acts serve as the foundation and beginning of the tremendous opposition that would be present during the days of the early church for it would be those in the city of Jerusalem who would resist and oppose the word of the gospel of the Lord Jesus. It would be the religious leaders of that day that would rise up in vehement opposition toward and against the word and gospel of the Lord Jesus. In fact you cannot read the fourth and fifth chapters without witnessing and beholding the tremendous resistance and opposition of the religious leaders toward the word and gospel of the Lord Jesus as well as the sixth chapter of the same New Testament book and witness the opposition directed toward Stephen . Not only this but when you come to the eighth chapter of this New Testament book you will find a great persecution breaking out in the city of Jerusalem against the early church thus causing all but the apostles to be scattered abroad from the city of Jerusalem into the regions of Judaea and Samaria.

 

            We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of the incredible reality of the opposition and resistance which was present in the midst of the days of the early church for it would be during those days we witness and behold the vast majority of the animosity toward the word of the gospel of the Lord Jesus coming from the Jews. If you want to truly understand the preaching of the word of the Lord Jesus during the days of the early church you must needs recognize and understand that the Jews were the greatest hindrance and obstacle to the preaching of the gospel of the Lord Jesus—particularly and especially once the gospel of the Lord Jesus began being preached unto the Gentiles. In chapters two through eight we find the word of the gospel being preached mainly to the Jews in Jerusalem and even in Judaea, however, when we come to the eighth chapter we find the word of the gospel of the Lord Jesus being preached in Samaria by Philip the evangelist. By the time we come to the tenth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts we find the apostle Peter preaching the word of the gospel of the Lord Jesus unto Gentiles in Caesarea according to the moving and working of the Holy Spirit. Oh it is truly something worth noting the progression of the spread of the body of Christ—and not only the spread of the body of Christ but also the manifestation of the Holy Spirit and the preaching of the gospel of the Lord Jesus. In all reality if we wish to understand the New Testament book of Acts we must needs recognize that during the days of the early church—not only was the spiritual body of the Lord Jesus Christ very much a living organism made without human hands but the Holy Spirit would and could not be contained to the city of Jerusalem. What’s more is that in addition to this we find the word and the gospel of the Lord Jesus spreading beyond the city of Jerusalem—first in Judaea, then in Samaria and ultimately into Asia and Europe.

 

            I sit here today thinking about and considering the words which are found in the New Testament book of Acts and I am brought face to face with the awesome truth that when you consider this powerful book you must recognize the spread and growth of the spiritual body of the Lord Jesus, the spread of the gospel concerning the Lord Jesus and the moving and manifestation of the Holy Spirit. You cannot read the New Testament book of Acts without at the same time recognizing how incredibly powerful the body, the Spirit and the gospel are during the days of the early church. What’s more is that these three would be and still are intrinsically linked and connected to each other and ought not and must not be separated. The more you read the New Testament book of Acts the more you will encounter and come face to face with the awesome truth surrounding the spread of the body, the spread of the gospel and the moving of the Spirit. At the very heart and foundation of the spread of the gospel and of the body is the manifestation and moving of the Spirit. In fact you cannot truly understand the spread of the body and the spread of the gospel without simultaneously understanding the moving of the Holy Spirit for both were intrinsically linked to the power, the presence and the power of the Holy Spirit. In addition to this—when you come to the eleventh chapter of the second epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the saints which were in Corinth you will find him speaking of another Jesus, another spirit and another gospel which would and could very well be preached unto and among them. If we truly want to understand the nature of the early church and the days in which the apostles and early church were alive and present in the midst of the earth we must needs recognize that at the very heart of the spread of the gospel and the spread of the body was the moving and manifestation of the Holy Spirit. Not only this but at the very heart of this are the words which the Lord Jesus speaking about the window blowing wherever it blows and how the manifestation of the Spirit is the same, for you can witness the wind moving and you can even at times hear the wind blowing, however, you cannot actually see the wind.

 

            The more I think about and consider the words which are found in the New Testament book of Acts the more I am brought face to face with the undeniable truth that the spiritual body of the Lord Jesus Christ would indeed spread throughout the known world during those days. From Judaea to Samaria to Antioch to Achaia and ultimately unto Europe and Asia the spiritual body of Christ would not only grow in size and number but it would also grow and expand into Judaea, Samaria and the uttermost parts of the earth. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this for it serves as the very heart and foundation of what we read in the New Testament book of Acts concerning the spread of the body and the spread of the gospel. You cannot read the New Testament book of Acts without understanding and recognizing the spread of the gospel and the spread of the body throughout the earth according to the moving of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit was truly in complete control of the spiritual body of the Lord Jesus Christ for we find Philip preaching the gospel of the Lord Jesus in Samaria, we find the apostle Peter preaching the gospel unto Gentiles in Caesarea when he preached to Cornelius and his entire household, and we find the apostle Paul and those who travelled with him preaching the word of the gospel both in Asia and Europe.

 

            What makes the spread of the gospel and the spread of the body so incredibly unique when you take the time to read the words which are found in the New Testament book of Acts is that more often than not the word of the gospel was not only preached but also received with much affliction and opposition. From the apostle Paul’s first missionary journey after the Holy Spirit separated both he and Barnabas unto the work whereunto they were called to the preaching of the word of the gospel in Thessalonica, Berea, Corinth and even in Ephesus we find much affliction, resistance and opposition to the word and gospel of the Lord Jesus. This is something we must needs recognize and understand for there is something about hearing and receiving the word of the Lord Jesus in much affliction, in much resistance, in much opposition and even in suffering and persecution. If we are truly honest with ourselves we must admit that much of the preaching done in the Western world is done from the convenience of church buildings with pews and/or padded chairs which are arranged neatly and comfortably in the midst thereof. Much of the preaching which is done in the Western world is done without the threat of violence, without the threat of resistance, without the threat of persecution, without the threat of suffering, and without the threat of opposition. Pause for a moment and think about the last time you heard of the word of the gospel of the Lord Jesus being preached in the Western world in much affliction, in much sorrow, in much anguish, in much suffering and with much opposition. When was the last time you heard of the preaching of the Lord Jesus in the Western world being preached in the midst of great resistance and opposition toward and against it? When was the last time you heard the preaching of the gospel of the Lord Jesus and there was any fear within your heart concerning resistance and opposition toward and against it?

 

            The more I study the New Testament book of Acts the more I find myself encountering the incredible reality of the word and gospel of the Lord Jesus being preached, yet not being preached in comfort and convenience but in the midst of great and present threats of resistance and opposition. Although the word and gospel of the Lord Jesus was indeed preached during the days of the early church by the apostles and others such as Stephen and Philip we find much of the preaching coming face to face with and meeting resistance and opposition. What’s more is that when you read the New Testament book of Acts you will find example after example of the word and gospel of the Lord Jesus being preached in the face of persecution, in the face of suffering, in the face of opposition and in the face of affliction. With this being said I would dare say there is something to be said about the word and gospel of the Lord being preached—and not only preached but also received—in the midst of affliction, in the midst of resistance, in the midst of opposition and in the midst of suffering and even persecution. There is something about those who hear the preaching of the gospel of the Lord Jesus and see the powerful picture of persecution which appears to be intrinsically linked and connected to it. Pause for a moment and think about many during the days of the early church and how most of them did not receive the word of the gospel of the Lord Jesus in comfort, in convenience and in quietness and rest. Oh there was a period of time mentioned in the New Testament book of Acts when the church did in fact experience a period of peace and rest—much like the initial days of the reign of Solomon when the LORD had granted Israel peace in the midst of her enemies as a direct result of the wars which David and his mighty men had fought against the nations round about Israel.

 

            I sit here today thinking about and considering the words which are found in the eleventh chapter of the second epistle written unto the Corinthian saints—and not only the words which are found in the eleventh chapter of this epistle but also the words found throughout this epistle—and I find myself coming face to face with the incredible and tremendous language used by the apostle Paul concerning the affliction, the trials, the suffering, the opposition, the distress and the troubles they faced throughout their ministry in the midst of the earth during those days. When you read the words found in this second epistle you will find the apostle Paul being very clear about the tremendous affliction, opposition, suffering, persecution and resistance they faced—not only being present among them but also in the various cities in which they entered and preached the word and gospel of the Lord Jesus. There is something incredibly powerful about the words and language which are found in these passages of Scripture for they highlight and underscore the tremendous truth surrounding the affliction, the persecution, the suffering, the resistance, the trials and troubles surrounding the preaching of the Lord Jesus Christ. In all reality I would dare say that there is something very much necessary about hearing and receiving the word of the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ in much affliction for when you hear and receive the word of the Lord Jesus initially in much trials, much tribulation and much trouble you will obtain a proper view of what it means to truly walk with Christ in the earth as one of His disciples. I am convinced that there are countless men and women in our Western world who have heard and received the word of the Lord Jesus within their hearts and lives and yet they fully anticipate and expect to live lives of comfort, ease, quietness and rest.

 

            Over the past year and a half we watched and witnessed as the whole world shut down—and not only as the whole world shut down but even as church buildings were forced to close their doors. For an extended period of time men and women could not enter into church buildings and gather themselves together with other believers and worship and hear the preaching of the word. What made the events of the last year and a half so incredibly unique and powerful when you think about it is when you consider that there were many men and women who professed themselves to be Christians who took to the streets to protest the closing and shutting down of church buildings. There were countless men and women who professed themselves to be Christians and followers of the Lord Jesus who declared their rights being violated and that church buildings were essential in the midst of the culture and society in which we live. What’s more is there were many professing Christians who thought and perceived that the shutting down of church buildings was indeed persecution in the midst of the days in which we are living. There were pastors who even threatened to sue and take state and local governments to court in defense of church buildings being opened. I have to admit that I was not only grieved but also greatly appalled at what I witnessed over the past year and a half when many professing Christians took to the streets to protest church buildings being shut and no longer being able to gather together with fellow believers. What’s more is that I am convinced that over the past year and half many professing Christians, many ministers and many churches sorely and severely missed the point of what was taking place during that time.

 

            LESSONS IN MISSING THE POINT! Oh the more I think about this particular truth the more I am brought face to face with the incredible truth that there were countless men and women over the past year and a half who missed the point of what was taking place among us in this nation. When church buildings were shut down and men and women could no longer gather together with fellow believers men and women would take to the streets to protest the “injustice” that was being done against Christians and against churches. What we must needs recognize is that the living and eternal God did not allow the church buildings to be shut so we could head to the streets and protest our rights somehow being violated. In all reality I would dare say that there were many professing Christians over the past year and a half who thought that their taking to the streets was somehow acceptable in the sight of the living God and yet never recognized that such actions grieve the very heart of the Father. I would absolutely love to know what the living God thought and felt over the past year and a half when we look back at the events which took place. What did the living and eternal God think when pastors and ministers threatened to sue and take to court state and local governments over church buildings being shut down? What did the living and eternal God think when professing Christians wrongly thought and perceived that what we were witnessing was persecution of Christians and persecution against the church? What did the living and eternal God think about professing Christians taking to the streets and instead of preaching and instead of ministering to the least of these they protested their rights being violated—or at least their perceived rights being violated?

 

            I read the words which are found in the eleventh chapter of the second epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the Corinthian saints and I am brought face to face with the tremendous truth surrounding the words which he wrote unto them. The apostle Paul was genuinely concerned over the Corinthian congregation and he was jealous over them with a godly jealousy. The apostle Paul espouses the Corinthian saints and congregation to one husband that he might present them as a chaste and pure virgin to Christ. With this being said, however, the apostle Paul feared lest by any and certain means as the serpent beguiled Eve through subtilty so their minds would be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. Within this particular chapter of this second epistle the apostle Paul spoke of his genuine and authentic concern for the Corinthian saints and their hearts and minds being beguiled as was Eve’s in the garden through and as a result of the subtilty of the serpent who deceived and beguiled her. What’s more is the apostle Paul would go on to speak concerning that this beguiling and deception would indeed look like as he spoke of one who came in among them preaching another Jesus whom they had not preached and/or another spirit whom they have not received and another gospel which they had not received. Oh we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this and how absolutely incredible it truly is for it draws and calls our attention to the tremendous truth surrounding the apostle Paul and his concern for the Corinthian congregation. The apostle Paul was concerned that they would receive another Jesus who was not preached unto them, receive another spirit which they had not received and even receive another gospel which they had not originally accepted. In short the apostle Paul was genuinely concerned for the Corinthian saints that they would indeed be deceived and beguiled from the simplicity that was found in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ.

 

            It is absolutely necessary we recognize and understand the words which are found here in this passage of Scripture for the words presented before us continue to show and demonstrate the vast difference and disparity between false preachers, false teachers, and false apostles who would dare enter in among us and preach another gospel and another Jesus which was contrary to the true gospel and the true Jesus. What adds even more weight to this is when you consider the final words the apostle Paul spoke unto the elders of the Ephesian church and how he declared unto them his concern that after his departure savage wolves would enter in among them not sparing the flock. What’s more is the apostle Paul was concerned that there would be those who would rise up from their own number who would teach and preach seducing doctrines contrary to the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. Not only this but when you read the epistle written unto the churches of Galatia you will find the apostle Paul speaking unto them concerning a false gospel which was preached unto and among them. Toward the end of this particular chapter we find the apostle Paul writing and speaking of his concern and care over the churches which daily weighed on him. Undoubtedly the apostle was very much aware of the dangers, threats and snares which faced the churches whereunto he had labored, toiled and ministered. The apostle Paul was daily and continually concerned over the churches whereunto he had labored and bestowed ministry that they would be deceived and led astray by seducing spirits and false gospels which presented a false Jesus and a false spirit which they had not received.

 

            As you continue reading within the eleventh chapter of this second epistle written unto the Corinthian saints you will find the apostle Paul writing and speaking of false apostles—deceitful workers—who transformed themselves into the apostles of Christ. Moreover the apostle Paul would also go on to write how this was no marvel for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light and that it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness. Oh we must needs recognize and understand the words which are found in this passage of Scripture for the words presented here in this passage of Scripture bring us face to face with the tremendous and incredible truth about the contrast between the false apostles and false teachers which would indeed creep in among the churches of the Lord Jesus Christ. What’s more is that as you read the words found in this passage of Scripture you will quickly encounter and come face to face with the vast difference between the false agents and apostles of Satan who parade and masquerade themselves as angels of light and yet they are nothing more than workers of iniquity. Oh there seems to be a vast and tremendous difference between the false teachers and false apostles which are mentioned in this passage of Scripture and the true and genuine apostles of the Lord Jesus. In all reality we must needs recognize that one of the greatest differences between these false apostles and the genuine apostles of the Lord Jesus Christ is in their willingness to suffer, experience affliction, experience trials and troubles, and experience opposition for the sake of the gospel and person of the Lord Jesus Christ.

            I read the words which are found in this passage of Scripture and I can’t help but encounter the incredible truth surrounding the false apostles whom the apostle Paul spoke of in this passage—those who transformed themselves into agents of righteousness. In all reality I would dare say that one of the greatest marks and signs of a true and genuine apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ is one who is willing to suffer with and for Christ. The more I read the words found in this passage of Scripture the more I am brought face to face with the defense the apostle Paul presented concerning his ministry—and not only concerning his ministry which was entrusted unto him but also concerning the preaching of the gospel of the Lord Jesus. You cannot read the words which are found in this passage of Scripture and not come face to face with the undeniable truth surrounding the tremendous suffering, affliction, trials, troubles, persecution and opposition he experience. It is in this particular chapter we find the apostle Paul speaking unto the Corinthian saints concerning those things he would speak and boast of—namely, those things which he suffered and those things which he endured as a faithful soldier of the Lord Jesus Christ. We read the words found in this passage of Scripture and we not only encounter and come face to face with the vast difference between those Christians who are willing to suffer with and for the Lord Jesus Christ but also the apostles of the Lord Jesus Christ who themselves are willing and do in fact suffer with the Lord Jesus Christ.

 

            I have to admit that as I read the words presented in this passage of Scripture I cannot help but encounter and come face to face with the truth surrounding the preaching and receiving of the gospel in much affliction, in much opposition and in much persecution and suffering. There is something different about hearing and preaching the gospel of the Lord Jesus—the gospel of the One who Himself suffered in the flesh and offered His body as a living sacrifice in the sight of the living God for the sins of humanity. There is something drastically different about the gospel that is preached with and under the threat of persecution, imprisonment, death, torture, beatings and the like. In all reality I would dare say there are many within our Western world who although they might have heard the preaching of the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ and although they might have received the preaching of the word of God they have a sorely misguided and misleading view and understanding of what the gospel truly is. I would dare say there are a number of men and women among us in this generation and in our Western culture and society who have in fact heard the word and gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ and yet have absolutely nothing to do with suffering, affliction, persecution, opposition and resistance. There are men and women among us in the churches of our Western culture and society who have absolutely no understanding of what it truly means to be a disciple and follower of the Lord Jesus Christ. Having said this there is something about those who hear and receive the word of the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ in affliction, in suffering, in opposition and in persecution and tribulation for it’s almost as if they are immediately presented with and immersed in a gospel of suffering.

 

            A GOSPEL OF ACCOMODATION VERSUS A GOSPEL OF SUFFERING! A GOSPEL FOR DISCIPLES OR A GOSPEL FOR PLAYBOYS! In all reality I would dare say that the gospel of the Lord Jesus is such that not only demands our willingness to present ourselves as living sacrifices which are holy and acceptable in the sight of the living God but it is also a gospel that firmly presents us with the tremendous truth that not only did our Lord who is the very heart, center and foundation of the gospel suffer and die in the flesh but so also might we ourselves expect to suffer in the flesh and die. If you take the time to read the four New Testament gospel narratives you will discover that the Lord Jesus never prepared His disciples to be received, welcome and embraced in this life but rather to be hated of all nations for His name’s sake. The Lord Jesus prepared and made ready His disciples to be brought before kings and governors for His name’s sake as well as for the reality that those who kill them thinking and believing they would be doing God a service by doing so. The Lord Jesus prepared His disciples for much suffering, much affliction, much trials, much tribulation and much suffering and even persecution. Not only this but the Lord Jesus would declare unto His disciples that a servant is not above their master and a disciple is not above their lord. Just as the Lord Jesus would suffer and experience persecution in the flesh so also would His disciples receive and face persecution in the flesh. Oh it is with this in mind I invite you to consider the following words which are found in the tenth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew as well as the words which are found in the fifth chapter of the same New Testament gospel:

 

            “Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you” (Matthew 5:10-12).

 

            “Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloke also. And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain. Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away. Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them t hat curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? Do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? Do not even the publicans so? Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect” (Matthew 5:38-48).

 

            “Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves. But beware of men: for they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues; and ye shall be brought before governoers and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them and the Gentiles. But when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak. For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you. And the brother shall deliver up the brother to death, and the father the child: and the children shall rise up against their parents, and cause them to be put to death. And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved. But when they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another: for verily I say unto you, Ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel, till the Son of man be come. The disciple is not above his master, nor the servant above his lord. It is enough for the disciple that he be as his master, and the servant as his lord. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more shall they call them of his household? Fear them not therefore: for there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; and hid, that there shall not be known. What I tell you in darkness, that speak ye in light: and what ye hear in the ear, that preach ye upon the housetops. And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? And one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Forear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than. Many sparrows. Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 10:16-33).

 

            “Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household. He that loveth his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me. He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it” (Matthew 10:34-39).

 

            I have to admit there is something truly remarkable and astonishing when reading the words which the Lord Jesus spoke unto His disciples when sending them out. What’s more is that it’s interesting to think these words were spoken when He sent them out as ambassadors to preach the gospel, to heal the sick, to cleanse the lepers, to cast out devils and to raise the dead. The more we read these words the more we must needs recognize and understand that when Jesus sent His disciples out into the world as ambassadors He prepared them to be hated of all nations for His name’s sake. What’s more is the Lord Jesus prepared His disciples to experience tremendous opposition, affliction, suffering, trials and troubles in the world He was sending them into. In all reality I am absolutely convinced there is a great need to consider the words which are found in this passage of Scripture—especially when considering it in light of the words which are found in the eleventh chapter of the second epistle written unto the saints which were at Corinth—for what we find here in this passage is a powerful picture of apostles who were willing to faithfully serve others and preach the gospel despite experiencing tremendous opposition, affliction, trials, troubles and suffering in the midst of it. I can’t help but think about how absolutely astonishing it is to read the eleventh chapter of this second epistle and come face to face with the tremendous truth the apostle Paul would ultimately transition to the various afflictions, struggles, conflicts, troubles, trials and tribulations he personally faced as he continued to preach and faithfully deliver the gospel of the Lord Jesus.

 

            I sit here and read the words which are found in the eleventh chapter of this epistle written by the apostle Paul for within it we are brought face to face with the powerful truth surrounding apostles and servants of the most High God who are ready and willing to give their lives for the sake of the word and gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. If there is one thing the words which are found in the eleventh chapter of this epistle prove and demonstrate it’s the tremendous and awesome reality of the apostle Paul who was willing to give of himself that those who he sought to minister to would not only hear but truly receive the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. If there is one thing I can’t help but think about when reading the words found in this passage of Scripture it’s everything the apostle was willing to endure that both Jews and Gentiles would hear the word of the gospel of the Lord Jesus. There is something absolutely fascinating when we read the words presented in this passage of Scripture for the words presented her draw and call us into the place where we recognize and understand that when we encounter the Thessalonians, when we encounter the Bereans, when we encounter the Corinthians, and when we encounter others we find them hearing and receiving the word of the gospel of the Lord Jesus being preached accompanied by trials, by troubles, by tribulation and by much afflictions. It was indeed true the apostle Paul declared that we must through many trials enter into the kingdom of heaven, however, I would dare say there is something which must be said about the gospel which is preached accompanied by not just the demonstration of the power of the Holy Spirit but also much affliction, conflict, struggle and suffering.

 

            As I prepare to bring this writing to a close I find it absolutely necessary to call and draw your attention to the challenging reality that when we consider the gospel which is preached to many of us within the Western world it is preached without the threat and danger of any affliction, tribulation, persecution, suffering, and the like. It is true that to some degree many of us have and many of us will experience trials and troubles in this life, however, it is true that many professing “Christians” in our western culture and society would and could not handle affliction, suffering and persecution if and/or when it actually rose up in the midst of this nation. What’s more is I feel it is absolutely necessary to declare unto you that what we witnessed and experienced over the past year and a half was not persecution of and against Christians. Church buildings shutting and being closed down amid a global pandemic was not and cannot even be considered persecution against the church. What’s more is I would dare say there are many within the churches in this nation who could not handle it if true persecution actually did manifest itself on the shores of this nation. There is not a doubt in my mind that much of the gospel that is preached in our nation, culture and society is that of comfort, convenience, accommodation and the like. There are men and women among us in many of our churches who have made the decision to walk with and follow the Lord Jesus because of the life He could offer and provide for them. The truth of the matter is that Jesus didn’t promise us our best life now and to find and gain our life in this culture and society but that we might lose it for the sake of His name and gospel.

 

There is a great need within our hearts and souls to recognize and understand that there are many professing Christians who would not only be offended but would also turn their backs and walk no more with the Lord Jesus. Forget not agreeing with or being able to handle the words which the Lord Jesus spoke for these men and women will be utterly offended with the words of the Lord Jesus and as a direct result can and will turn their backs on Him never to walk with Him again. There has been such a gospel of convenience and accommodation that has been present within our culture and society and there has been very little of the gospel that has been accompanied by a true and authentic willingness to deny oneself and take up their cross that they might walk with and follow the Lord Jesus. We as the saints of God must needs recognize and acknowledge that we have indeed and have in fact been called to lose our lives in this life that we might gain it in Christ in the next. Oh that there would be men and women who would recognize the tremendous reality surrounding a gospel of affliction, a gospel of suffering and a gospel that requires us to give our lives for the sake of the name of the Lord Jesus. What’s more is there is a great need for us as the disciples and followers of the Lord Jesus Christ to be those who give our lives whatever the cost that we might follow the One who was willing to suffer in the flesh and lay down His life that we might experience redemption and reconciliation in the sight and presence of the living God.

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