Even as you are singing, “Come let us worship”, it is actually I that am calling you to come. Yes I have taken the initiative from the very beginning, from the moment I crafted you together in your mother’s womb – through the whole path of your life, your relationships and eventually welcoming you into a relationship with Me . “Come” is still My invitation to you – you have to do nothing except stand up and follow Me – all you have to do is set aside all those other loves you have in your life and focus your eyes and your heart and desire on Me. So yes – come, call all together to follow me and worship together. That is what gives Me the greatest pleasure.
On to chapter 11 of 2 Corinthians. Paul opens the chapter with an affirmation of his love for the Corinthians and I love the way he uses the marriage picture to symbolize the church’s relationship with Christ, vs 2. Then as he is going to take the ones whom he calls false apostles on, he first lays down the ground rule ie the basic gospel message in vs 4. “Jesus Christ and Him crucified”. He has been affirming this gospel message from the very beginning of the first letter and does not hesitate to lay it down again here as a sort of gauntlet to the false apostles. “Here measure yourselves and your message against this”.
Then Paul takes on these people who have been attacking him. We can only surmise what they were exactly saying from what Paul says, but it seems something like this:
Paul was not an accomplished speaker. This would have been the measure of the many Greek debaters of themselves who loved to speak and debate about every sort of philosophy. They often would do this in the market places.
He needed to work to feed himself. The fact that he was not being paid by the church showed them that he was inferior.
All his suffering and hardship showed them that he had no supernatural power, which would have set him apart, in their eyes as a real apostle.
From Paul’s reply we can pick up the following characteristics of the false apostles:
They were claiming to be super (hyper-) apostles. vs 5. Paul takes up the theme of boasting which obviously points to the way they were presenting themselves. Their “gospel” message placed them in the center, not Jesus.
,They claimed a superior ability to speak in public and carry on the public debates. vs 6
They did not need to work to support themselves.
Paul depicts them as “masquerading as angels of the light” vs 13. This is a very serious and practical charge, because that is exactly how Satan does his work in the church. He plants people in the church who are charming and friendly and yet carry out Satan’s plans to destroy the church from the inside.
From vs 16 Paul replies to these accusations of boasting, taking on his most sarcastic tone. Even calling himself “a fool”, as he boasts of his weakness. This reply goes on into chapter 12 as he reels off all his “qualifications” to be able to boast about. Maybe we will look at this next week, while today we ponder on what we have just read in the first half of ch 11.
So as we read all this about false apostles, how is Jesus speaking to us now in 2023 from this. Especially since most of us are not in that sort of position in the church. Well, I think that it is very important that every Christian has the responsibility of weighing the teachers and teaching they are receiving. Not being taken in by outside appearances or for that matter academic qualifications. Whole swathes of the church today are being side-tracked by false teachers and false teaching and the pew members simply accepting what is told them without thinking it through. The basis of one’s assessment of any leader or teacher is, does he preach Christ and Him crucified? Is this the main mission of the church you attend?
We need to be aware of the many wiles of Satan as he seeks to divide and undermine God’s church. It is only through the vigilance of each member that these plans are thwarted.
In addition to this we are again reminded of what went into the production of the scriptures that we can so easily take for granted. It should also bolster our trust and belief in the words on the bible’s pages which lead us into the very presence of God Himself and His Son Jesus.
May God bless you all till next week.