Cover image of 2 Corinthians: authentic Christianity

2 Corinthians: authentic Christianity

Reading through Paul's second letter to the church at Corinth makes you aware that this is the most personal and emotional of all his letters. It throbs with a sense of the glories of God's grace.Visiting Corinth on my recent trip was a moving experience for me. There is very little left standing of the original city -- it was destroyed by the Romans shortly after Paul's visit there and has been lying in ruins ever since. Certain temple columns remain, though. as well as the market place and other public areas of the city. They can be clearly discerned, and the actual pavement of the judgment hall of the Roman proconsul is well preserved.It wasn't hard for me to imagine the Apostle Paul as he came down from Athens into this city which was at the time a center of pleasure, a great commercial city and a city of great beauty, with many, many temples. It had gained a reputation as the center of lascivious worship -- the worship of the Goddess of Love. There were some 10,000 prostitutes attached to the temple of Aphrodite and the city lived up, or perhaps I should say, down, to its reputation as a place of sensual pleasure. It represented a sex-saturated society. You can see indications of this in Paul's letters to the church there. It was easy to imagine the apostle arriving in the dust of the road unknown and unheralded a simple tentmaker by all appearance. Finding two people of the same trade, Aquila and Priscilla, he lived and worked with them, and preached up and down the city streets and in the market places and synagogues. Thus God used him to lay the foundations of the church at Corinth.

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Beyond the End (2 Corinthians 4:16 - 5:5)

One of the great questions which all of us has to face -- and all of us do face it even though it may be in the privacy of our own thoughts -- is, "What is waiting for me when I die?" There is a new interest in that subject today. Many books are coming out, explorations are being made, even scientific studies attempted in this field, though it is very difficult to see how science can probe in this area at all. As you examine the answers that are being given, there are really three categories of them, and only three.

22 Sep 2018

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Nothing but the Truth (2 Corinthians 4:1-6)

These first six verses of Second Corinthians, Chapter 4, will answer a lot of questions as to why so many people do not believe the gospel when they first hear it, or even after they have heard it over a long period of time. They will answer questions about why many who do believe the gospel quit after they have been walking in the Christian way for some time; and also questions about why some people whom you think will never believe it, suddenly do so. The passage begins with a tremendous declaration by the Apostle Paul, about his reaction to his own ministry:

24 Sep 2018

Rank #2

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Your Pot -- His Power (2 Corinthians 4:7-15)

Here in Second Corinthians, Chapter 4, we are examining one of the clearest passages in Scripture, in my estimation, to declare the process by which the power of God is released among men. We long, we pray, for that power to be released among us; everyone wants that to happen. I am increasingly concerned, however, about the ignorance of Christians, not only in other places but right here as well, as to their true power. We are surrounded by evidences of decay in society, of increasing corruption, of the disintegration of personality, of increasing hurt and darkness and despair. But all the time I can hear Jesus saying to us, "You are the salt of the earth,"(Matthew 5:13 RSV).

23 Sep 2018

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Watch Out for These (2 Corinthians 6:11 - 7:1)

One of the most abused verses in the whole New Testament is Verse 17 of Chapter 6 of Second Corinthians. Many people fear and avoid it; others use it as a kind of club to clobber anyone who violates any of the common taboos of fundamentalist Christianity:

18 Sep 2018

Rank #4

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What's There to Live For? (2 Corinthians 5:6-17)

"What is there to live for?" That is a question that fills many hearts, both Christian and non-Christian alike, today. These are times of crisis. We feel them very strongly in this present hour. Many are troubled by the bleak look of the future. Teen-age suicide rates are rocketing as despair spreads. So, many are asking the question, "What is there to live for?" There is a wonderful answer provided in this passage from Second Corinthians 5 which we will be studying today. I hope that many will be helped by it.

21 Sep 2018

Rank #5

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Our Secret Weapons (2 Corinthians 10:1-6)

This last section of Second Corinthians contains some of the strongest language against people that the Apostle Paul uses in any of his letters. Because of the severity of that language, and the fact that it seems to contrast with some of the earlier passages in the letter where he expresses joy over the Corinthians' repentance, many scholars have felt that this is a fragment of another of his letters that has somehow been tacked onto Second Corinthians. Some have even thought it may be the "severe letter" that Paul mentions earlier in this letter that he wrote to the Corinthian church and which has been lost to us. We ought to remember, however, that when he wrote this, as happened with many of his letters, he was traveling about from place to place. He would dictate his letters at night, and this is probably the cause of some of these sudden changes of subject which we run across in his writings from time to time.

14 Sep 2018

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How to Repent (2 Corinthians 7:2-16)

Everybody needs to repent. Whenever we hurt someone else, or we ourselves are hurt by our own actions, whenever we break a law, whenever we tell a lie, whenever we steal someone else's property or name, whenever we smear some other person's reputation we need to repent, because repentance means a change of mind, a change of attitude. This section of Second Corinthians, beginning with Verse 2 of Chapter 7, is a marvelous study on how to do that properly, how to heal and restore instead of making things worse, as many of us do when we try to bring about repentance. The opening paragraph gives the right approach, the right attitude, if you want to bring about repentance in another. Paul says:

17 Sep 2018

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Keep it Simple (2 Corinthians 11:1-15)

In the final chapters of Second Corinthians, the Apostle Paul is dealing with probably the most powerful tool, the most dangerous threat to a church the devil has -- infiltration -- the destruction of a church from within by teachers who are veering off from the truth.

12 Sep 2018

Rank #8

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How to Spot a Phony (2 Corinthians 10:7-18)

I was wondering this week what would be the reaction here in PBC, if, this summer while I was away on vacation, some visiting speaker came in and began to suggest to this congregation that I was a religious phony, that I had been teaching you false doctrine all of these thirty years, that I have introduced some rather strange and unbiblical ideas into the congregation, and that I was out to feather my own nest. Some of you would say, "We knew that all along! We're just surprised to hear you admit it like that!" Others, perhaps, would say, "Let's give him a chance, at least, to answer these charges." Hopefully, some of you might say, "Well, let's check the Scriptures and see if they're true." That would be but a faint picture of the situation that existed in Corinth when Paul wrote this Second Corinthian letter.

13 Sep 2018

Rank #9

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Giving Joyfully (2 Corinthians 8:16 - 9:15)

We looked at some of the great examples of giving in Chapter 8 of Second Corinthians last week. There was the giving of those poverty-stricken Macedonians who gave beyond their means, out of their deep, desperate poverty. Then there was the incredibly rich giving of Jesus, who gave everything up and became poor that we might be rendered incredibly rich. What wonderful examples of giving from two ends of the scale -- from the poor who had nothing to give and yet gave, and from the very richest of all who gave all that he had that we might be rich. Then we began to look at some of the principles of giving to guide us. I do not know any area of the church life that is more in need of teaching than this.

15 Sep 2018

Rank #10