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"Yes, I am coming quickly." Amen.
Revelation 22:20

This is a Home Bible study. It exists to promote the Word of God as it's written, which means nothing added or taken away, and minus opinions.

The Bible is the only source of Divine Truth in the world today. Although it is both helpful and informative in many ways, the Bible often doesn't tell us everything we want to know but the Bible does tell us everything we need to know.

My role is to guide you through the Scriptures; to explain what this book says and in some cases what it does not say because this is just as important.

Ultimately, you have a decision to make concerning your salvation - no one can make it for you. The Lord Jesus Christ, the Creator God, has given everyone the ability to make choices - this is is called "Free Will." I pray you consider your choice wisely.

II Timothy 2:15

Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.


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Friday, December 9, 2016

2 Corinthians 1 (v3-11) (Lesson 2)



Home Bible Study©
Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth (2 Timothy 2:15)

This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men (and women) to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. (1Timothy 2:3-4)

Established November 2008                                                     Published weekly on Friday

2 Corinthians 1:3-11                                                              Lesson 02          

Welcome to Home Bible Study©

For the word of God is living and active and sharper than two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart (Hebrews 4:12).

The “word of God” here is the written or the spoken word of God and not the books you find up and down the Religion section in your neighborhood bookstore.  The Bible is known as “the living word” because it accomplishes God’s will here on earth (Isaiah 55:11), whether it is read, preached, or studied.  The Bible is unlike other published books, whatever emotional or social effects they may produce, in that it brings about lasting supernatural change within an individual, “ so faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ (Romans 10:17).

I’ve been teaching the Bible for more than 20 years, yet I can still say I learn something new every time I pick up this book to study it.  Since this works for me, I know it can work for you.  Thus my goal, and my prayer, is that each one of comes away from these Bible lessons learning at least “one” new thing from God’s Word every week.

If you’re a true Believer, God’s wonderful plan for your life has already happened in the spiritual sense.  Now it’s just waiting to take place in the physical sense, therefore, “Stand and consider the wonders of God” (Job 37:14b).

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Why does God allow suffering

Everyone at one time or another has wondered or asked the question, “Why does God permit suffering?”  Bad things happen to both the saved and the unsaved; this is a fact (Matthew 5:45).  Even if you and your family escape tragedy or severe illness, there are still those burdens or pressures in life to bear.  Perhaps, you or someone you know is dealing with one of more of these social ills: an addiction, bullies, divorce, a job loss, insecurity, loneliness, physical abuse, rejection (of some sort), sexual abuse, etc.  Let’s not leave out the ultimate tragedy, which no one escapes, and that would be death.  We all enter this world with our departure date already scheduled; we just aren’t aware of how and when. 

This isn’t the way God planned it folks it came to be this way because the first man exercised his free will or his God-given ability to make choices.  In the beginning, God created a perfect world and made both the man and the woman perfect creations before placing them in it.  The origin of suffering dates back to the Garden of Eden experience after Adam willfully chose to disobey God’s single commandment not to eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil (Genesis 2, 3).  Everything changed after that.

But God didn’t change.  No-siree; God is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow!  I mention this because people want to lay the blame for suffering at the feet of God.  They go on to say He doesn’t care about us down here, since He allows suffering on this planet.   My response to that mindset is those who have this attitude should spend some time reading and studying this book before making such a hasty and ignorant statement.  For it was in Jesus Christ that God showed his true attitude toward human suffering.  He once and for all demonstrated He does care about us by sending His own Son to this earth not just to visit but to die for the sins of every person who ever lived.  Jesus lived; agonized, and died by the rules of this life, the same ones we live and suffer by.  He was fully God and fully Man.  Therefore, God actually came in the flesh to suffer right along with us.  It was the greatest example of God’s love possible.  Jesus Christ himself said it: “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13; Romans 5:8).

Less than 24 hours after saying this, Jesus, as God incarnate, gave up His life willingly.
He literally suffered and died for all (2 Corinthians 5:15).  He didn’t ask or demand that people change, i.e. stop sinning before he went to the Cross to die.  He died, in their place, while we were yet sinners (Romans 5:8).  He removed every sin from every man, woman, and child and made the way of salvation open for those who would believe the gospel.   The Apostle John witnessed the death of God in the flesh.  The sacrifice of Jesus Christ exemplified love and John expressed it eloquently:  For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16).

In the crucifixion, God put to rest, for all time, any notion that He doesn’t care about us and the passage we’re currently studying indicates He means to comfort us during our suffering.  We recently completed our study of the resurrection of the dead at the Rapture.   In the future resurrection of the righteous, God will give each Believer an immortal body and make their lives suffering-free.  Everyone who has suffered and is currently suffering will suffer no more.  Until then, as long as humans live in a fallen world and as long as we continue to make mistakes, there will be suffering.

What are the causes of suffering

Sinful people cause some suffering directly (addictions, anger, cheating, crime, divorce, drugs, lying, etc.

Sin causes suffering indirectly (because of sinful practices this world is corrupted, deteriorating, painful, evil – Genesis 3:14-19, 4:1-15; Romans 8:20-27)

This means God is NOT the cause of suffering; He is the author of good (James 1:13-17).

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Please open your Bible at 2 Corinthians 1:3
  
Our Apostle Paul reveals four distinct purposes for those daily trials or pressures we all encounter as Believers and why in verses 3-11.   

2 Corinthians 1

Let’s look at verses 3-5:

Receiving God’s Comfort

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.  For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ.

The term comfort, Paraklesis, in the Greek language, (pronounced:  par-ak’-lay-sis), Noun, Feminine; Strong’s Greek #3874, and in its different forms is used ten times in this section; it’s the key term throughout the entire passage.  It also appears in chapters 1-9 twenty-five times, therefore, we should get a handle on its meaning before proceeding.  The word means to call alongside.  It was often used in a judicial sense of an advocate; one who rendered legal aid, comfort, and guidance.  In this context it is used in the sense of encouragement and consolation and it refers to God the Father. 

God didn’t instigate suffering on this planet or in our lives, but since the fall of man He wills for us to experience tribulation, i.e. Thlipsis or affliction, distress, and oppression so that we can know Him better.  Now, that concept may sound a bit off center to some folks, but if you take the time to carefully consider it, you’ll come to understand the fact that we could not truly appreciate Him as the “Father of mercies and the God of all comfort” without being delivered from our suffering.  As Believers, following Jesus Christ daily, we are called to become acquainted with our Savior’s sufferings, so that we can experience the blessing of His comfort: that I might know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead (Philippian 3:10-11). 

In verses 3-11, our Apostle Paul is going to reveal four distinct purposes for those daily trials or pressures we all encounter as Believers and why. 

In verses 8-10, Paul wants these Corinthians to know (and us too) that when they are burdened excessively they should not rely on themselves or their own strength to deliver them out of it.

Trust in God’s Comfort

For we do not want you to be unaware, brethren, of our affliction which came to us in Asia, that we were burdened excessively, beyond our strength, so that we despaired even of life; indeed, we had the sentence of death within ourselves so that we would not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead; who delivered us from so great a peril of death, and will deliver us, He on whom we have set our hope.  And He will yet deliver us,

I like to point out from time to time that the Bible doesn’t tell us everything that we would like to know, but it does tell us EVERYTHING that we need to know, AMEN.  Here, Paul doesn’t give us the details about the affliction(s) he was facing in Ephesus, but from a reader’s perspective it certainly looks dire.  It was some type or types of persecution and it may have included an illness made worse by Paul’s missionary work.  After some Bible review, I’ve found a few likely possibilities:

Jewish opposition or “wild beasts” in Ephesus (1 Cor 15:32)
Suffering 39 stripes after being brought before a Jewish court (2 Cor 11:24)
The riot at Ephesus (Acts 19:23-41)
A particular persecution shortly before Paul left for Troas (Acts 20:19; 1 Cor 16:9)
Some type of recurring illness (2 Cor 12:7-10)

In the midst of these tribulations, Paul’s said, we were burdened excessively, beyond our strength, so that we despaired even of life; meaning, Paul and his co-workers feared for their lives.  These threats were that great!  But here’s the thing we need to take away from this passage, especially when we find ourselves in the midst of some tribulation that’s about to bring us to the brink of despair.  Paul’s response, as well as his coworkers, to this threat was not to trust in ourselves, to weather the storms, a.k.a. trials of life, but in God who raises the dead.  It was God who delivered us from so great a peril of death, and will deliver us, He on whom we have set our hope. 

You see, God intends for us Believers to learn to lean on Him; to trust Him to see us through our suffering.  When we reach the end of our rope, so to speak, we are more likely to recognize Him as the only One whose Grace is sufficient for our every need (2 Corinthians 12:9-10).  When a person reaches the point where they express fear for their very life, as did Paul, this betrays the fact that they are completely overwhelmed.  But in the midst of this dread and uncertainty Paul and his co-workers found comfort when they trusted God for deliverance.

That last sentence brings us to verses 1:4, 6-7.  Here we learn God comforts us so that we, in turn, will be able to comfort those who are going through or have just come out of a similar trial. 

God Offers Believers Comfort

2 Corinthians 1

4: who comforts us in all our afflictions so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.

6:  But if are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; or if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which is effective in the patient enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer,

7: and our hope for you is firmly grounded, knowing that as you are sharers of our sufferings, so also you are sharers of our comfort.

And then verse 11:

11:  you also joining in helping us through your prayers, so that thanks may be given by many persons on our behalf for the favor bestowed on us through the prayers of many. 

Another one of Gods plans for suffering includes other Believers.  One important reason why God permits us to experience affliction is that it prepares us to minister to others who are undergoing similar difficulties in life.  Permit me to illustrate.  My first wife decided to end our marriage after 8 years. I tried to save the marriage, but it takes two.  Within a few months after our divorce she re-married - hence the reason for our hasty divorce.  If I had someone to talk to at that time who had “been there;” someone who had experienced the same emotions I was dealing with regularly such as deep sorrow, anger, and regret, I probably would have healed much faster.  Bottom line:  I did get over the pain of divorce and now I can help an individual who is struggling with the same affliction and needs comforting.  

God intends for every Believer to see affliction and comfort as a means of administering comfort to those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God – for their comfort and salvation.  One of the ways we can assist those who are suffering is by lifting them up to God in prayer (v11).

Receiving Comfort from Believers (See the same verses as above).

One thing life teaches us is this there’s always a flip-side.  Since God intends to use Believers to minister to others in their time of need, He also plans to use them to encourage Believers when they are down (2 Corinthians 12:26).  Here we find a sort of mutuality about the issue of suffering.  Although Paul’s suffering was directed at the Corinthian Church’s lack of spiritual growth and their worldliness, they contributed to his comfort by praying for him:  you also joining in helping us through your prayers.  Paul understood the value of intercessory prayer and was not shy about asking the Corinthians, despite their numerous spiritual problems, to pray for him.  Thus, these saints in Corinth were helping him a great deal, when they prayed for him.


Your salvation and mine is no guarantee of a pain-free life.  In fact, we are assured that following our Lord and Savior will involve a share of difficulty perhaps even tragedy.  However, we can be certain that God does not recklessly subject us to suffering. 
Tribulation in this life always has a purpose – in fact, several purposes.  Apart from suffering we could neither know the fullness of God’s good Grace; learn to trust Him completely; or minister to others in need as God desires. 

There’s a song called “Diamonds” by Hawk Nelson that will help me bring this lesson to a close – perhaps you’re already familiar with it. 

Here and now I'm in the fire
In above my head
Being held under the pressure
Don't know what'll be left
But it's here in the ashes
I'm finding treasure

He's making diamonds, diamonds
Making diamonds out of dust
He is refining in His timing
He's making diamonds out of us

I'll surrender to the power
Of being crushed by love
Till the beauty that was hidden
Isn't covered up
Oh it's not what I hoped for
It's something much better

He's making diamonds, diamonds
Making diamonds out of dust
He is refining in His timing
He's making diamonds out of us

Oh the joy of the Lord
It will be my strength
When the pressure is on
He's making diamonds

He's making diamonds, diamonds
Making us rise up from the dust
He is refining in His timing
He's making diamonds out of dust
Making diamonds out of us

I won't be afraid to shine
I won't be afraid to shine
I won't be afraid to shine
Cause He's making diamonds out of dust
Making diamonds out of us

Aren’t you constantly working with your children, trying to make them better than they are?  Well, God loves us too much to leave us the way He found us.  Being a new creation in Christ Jesus means the old sinful person you once were has gone you now have a renewed heart, but it also means you have a renewed mind.  The mind is actually the key to the Believer’s life.  The reason why non-believers don’t respond to God’s truths is because they can’t understand spiritual truth (1 Corinthians 2:14).  Therefore, we all need to accept the fact that God wants what’s best for us and we need to accept the tribulations in life for what they are and turn them into blessings; this is what the apostles did.  Someone once said to me, “Take the lemons you receive in life and make lemonade.  I rather like that expression because it fits.    

(To be continued)

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