Home Bible Study

"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, March 31, 2017

2 Corinthians (6:4-10) (Lesson 16)



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

Established November 2008                                                       Published Weekly on Friday

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)

2 Corinthians (6:4-10)                                                      (Lesson 16)

Welcome to Home Bible Study.  I thank you for not only being here today but for your interest in learning more about the truth.

The Bible reveals just before Pilate gave in to the pressure of the unruly crowd that had assembled outside and ordered the crucifixion of the Lord Jesus Christ, he asked one of the most tragic questions ever recorded in the Bible; “So You are a king?  Jesus answered, “You say correctly that I am a king.  For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, to testify to the truth.  Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.”  Pilate said to Him, “What is truth?”   And when he had said this, he went out again to the Jews and said to them, “I find no guilt in Him” (John 18:37-38).

Note Pilate does not ask, “What is the truth” this would indicate he was interested in knowing the truth.  He merely said, “What is truth?”  It was a rhetorical question, a cynical response to what the Lord had just revealed to him.  So, what did Pilate miss?  The same thing most of this world is missing.  The Truth was standing right in front of him!  Pilate, like most people, was looking for some ultimate answer to a question beyond which there are no further questions.  But here’s the thing, that truth can only come from God and it involves mankind’s eternal destiny; that’s what Jesus is saying. 

Josh McDowell on his radio program one day said he speaks on many college campuses and he has found cynicism there as it relates to whether anyone can ever truly know anything to be “absolutely true.”  This leads us to a very important principle, one that is just as relevant today as it was 2,000 years ago for Pilate.  Whenever one loses faith in the fact there is “absolute truth,” there is only one standard by which that person’s actions can be measured:  Political Correctness.  Political Correctness is not truth.  It is man’s version of what they deem to be acceptable truth. 

The Lord Jesus Christ is the absolute Truth:  the Apostle John wrote:  For the law was given to Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ (John 1:17).  

 “I am the way, and the truth, and the life, no one comes to the Father but through Me” (John 14:6); this is something every man, woman, and child must deal with either in this life or the next!

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But in everything commending ourselves as servants of God, in much endurance, in afflictions, in hardships, in distresses, in beatings, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labors, in sleeplessness, in hunger, in purity, in knowledge, in patience, in kindness, in the Holy Spirit, in genuine love, in the word of truth, in the power of God, by the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and the left, by glory and dishonor, by evil report and good report; regarded as deceivers and yet true; as unknown yet well-known, as dying yet behold, we live; as punished yet not put to death, as sorrowful yet always rejoicing, as poor yet making many rich, as having nothing yet possessing all things (4-10). 

*There was insufficient time to explain these verses satisfactorily last week because the Bible lesson went beyond the expected time limit.  Rather than rush through this section just to get er’ done, I decided to stop and return to it this week.  This way, not only does God’s Word receive the proper attention and respect it deserves, so do you.

Please open your Bible to 2 Corinthians 6:4-10.

Paul endured; even in the worst circumstances and God was glorified by the fact that no matter what he went through he did not give up.  The word endurance means:  to stay under the pressure.  We all feel pressure, the desire to give in a little bit here, to give up there, because we deem some things not even worth trying.  You’ve probably heard the phrase, “If you can’t bear the heat, stay out of the kitchen.”  Well, Paul lived in the kitchen, so to speak  - because he never quit and Believer’s should not quit so easily either just because the going gets a little rough.  The term, “hang in there” certainly applies here and expresses Paul’s meaning.  Just hang in there, don’t give in, and don’t quit; endure the pressure and God will see you through your circumstances to victory:  in afflictions, in hardships, in distresses… (v4).

Afflictions are those day-in and day-out, run-of-the-mill type problems we all face.  These are the things that can irritate you; that can ruin your day without really trying.  In fact, you may feel afflicted right now.  Are you under some pressure?  Is something irritating you and you’re finding it difficult to make it go away?  Perhaps you just received a bill that you can’t pay.  Maybe your doctor just gave you the results of the tests you recently had completed and you need surgery.  You may have been laid-off from work or lost you job altogether.  Perhaps you woke up this morning and your car wouldn’t start.  Perhaps all of your children are home from school this week with the flu.  These afflictions just come one right after another and you have to deal with them.  

Then Paul mentions hardships.  I thought afflictions and hardships were the same thing and I was wrong, folks, which just goes to prove what I’ve been teaching all along; you’re never too old to learn something new from this book.  The Greek word for hardship is Anagke (pronounced:  an-ang-kay’), Noun Feminine, Strong’s Greek #318, meaning:  necessity, imposed either by circumstances, or by law of duty; calamity.  They are closely related to afflictions but hardships are things you cannot help; they are things you cannot escape from.  For example, a little over a year ago I was forced to move my 92 y.o. mother into a nursing home.  She’d been independent all her life, but because of circumstances beyond her control, and the families’, she couldn’t live this way any longer.  She almost died twice living on her own, so to keep her alive and well it became a necessity to have a medical staff involved in her care 24/7/365.  This created a hardship for her and for us – believe me. 

Another example would be my brother-in-law.  My older sister informed me her husband was diagnosed with bilateral lung cancer, liver cancer, cancer of the lymph nodes, and he has an inoperable brain tumor.  The doctors gave him 2 weeks to six months to live.   I received a phone call from her just the other day informing me Bob died while she was with him.   He didn’t make it two weeks…  It goes without saying my sister is distraught and heartbroken.  These are hardships; they cannot be helped, we cannot escape them; and we have responsibilities to fulfill concerning them.  However we do so as Believers with a spirit of optimism, as did our Apostle Paul knowing this attitude glorifies our heavenly Father:  For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen (2 Corinthians 4:16-17a). 

Next in line, Paul spoke of being in distresses this is akin to being in “narrow places.”  The idea carries the notion of being “boxed in” feeling “pressed” from all sides, seeing no way out.  This reminds me of General Custer at the Battle of the Little Bighorn or as the Lakota Sioux Indians referred to it, the Battle of the Greasy Grass.   A biblical example of this could very well be Paul’s statement to the church in Corinth: “For we do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, of our trouble which came to us in Asia:  that we were burdened beyond measure, above strength, so that we despaired even of life.  Yes, we had the sentence of death in ourselves…” (2 Corinthians 1:8-9).  Elsewhere in wrote of fighting with beasts at Ephesus (1 Corinthians 15:32).  Paul actually thought he was going to die, yet he did not quit. 

I’m thinking, that’s plenty, but Paul continues, saying, in beatings, later in this letter at 11:23-27 he explains that up to this time he had already been beaten five times with 39 stripes.  Count those up.  They add up to 195 painful stripes across his back.  But that didn’t stop Paul and neither did his near death experience at Lystra (Acts 14:8-20).  Paul speaks of this event in 2 Corinthians 12:1-10 saying, “I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago (during his first missionary journey) (whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, God knows) was caught up to the third heaven…  This book does not say Paul was stoned to death, but I find it hard to believe the Jews who performed the deed would have left Paul without checking to see he was really dead before dragging his body out of the city where they left him for dead.   But Paul got right up and walked right back into the city where they stoned him… and spent the night there.  That’s a man “on fire” for the Lord, folks. 

Then he spoke of imprisonments and according to Clement of Rome (Philippians 4:3) Paul was imprisoned on seven different occasions.   Our Bible only gives us three of these accounts, in Philippi, in Caesarea, and in Rome.  However, jail time didn’t keep Paul from doing the Lord’s work.  He managed to convert the household of Caesar while imprisoned in Rome (Philippians 4:22), demonstrating God can use us wherever we’re planted.

Even in tumults - Paul is saying he was threatened by many an uproar or riot, i.e. mobs.  Let’s go back to the time shortly after Paul’s conversion.  He was proclaiming Jesus in the synagogues, saying, “He is the Son of God…  Jesus is the Christ.”  The Jews were confused, since this same man was well known as the chief persecutor of Jesus Believers.  But now he’s a problem so:  When many days had elapsed, the Jews plotted together to do away with him… (Acts 9:20-25).  (See Acts 13:50-14:3, 14:4-7, 14:19-20, 16:22-23, 17:1-11 etc.).  Paul faced similar situations often, but he never gave up. 

Then there were certain commitments Paul had undertaken by choice he called them, labors, sleeplessness, and hunger.  Our Apostle Paul worked as a tentmaker and Acts 18:1-3 is the go-to chapter for highlighting this fact.  But Paul and his co-workers labored for the Lord as well:  To this present hour we are both hungry and thirsty, and are poorly clothed, and are roughly treated, and are homeless; and we (what) toil, working with our own hands... (1 Corinthians 4:11-12a). 

In sleeplessness - Paul was under all this pressure and persecution.  There was also the added responsibility of all these churches.  He spent a lot of time on the road traveling too, which meant he experienced many watchful nights in order to protect the people with him.  Thieves wanted their stuff mainly but the Jewish opposition wanted to kill Paul.  I don’t know if you have ever been put in a position where you had to “fight sleep” to say awake because people’s lives depended on it.  If you’ve served in the military, there’s a good chance you understand what Paul meant by in sleeplessness as he laid there ever vigilant on those chilly, drawn out, watchful nights. 

The last thing Paul mentions in this grouping is hunger (2 Corinthians 11:27).  While we may go without eating by choice, when Paul said he went hungry he means to say he had no choice in the matter; he would have preferred to have eaten something.  There could be a number of reasons why Paul went without food.  Knowing people preferred you dead rather than alive; this threat could have kept him away from food sources on many occasions.  As I said earlier, he spent a good deal of time traveling this too probably prevented him from eating regularly. 

In all his letters I find no sense of him complaining about his circumstances; there’s not even a hint he may be willing to give it all up because the pressure was too great.  And that, my friends in Christ Jesus, is what is God-honoring about all these experiences.  I don’t want you to miss this.  It wasn’t that he went through these circumstances or stayed under the pressure, i.e. endured.  It was the Christ-like character he consistently displayed while in them and coming through them that showed him to be approved before God. 

This thought serves to take us into his next grouping:  in purity, in knowledge, in patience, in kindness, in the Holy Spirit, in genuine love, in the word of truth, in the power of God…  Paul goes from speaking about the circumstances in which he served the Lord to speaking about how he coped while in the midst of these circumstances.  He begins with in purity, meaning, even though some of the Corinthians were slinging mud at him, none would stick.  Both morally and physically his life was above criticism. 

In knowledge – Paul communicated the true knowledge of God, rightly divided, as opposed to the Greeks who believed in and taught philosophy and science as the truth and the Jewish opposition who continued to teach obedience to the Law undermining Paul’s work as the Lord’s apostle to the Gentiles (Galatians 1:6-10). 

In patience –Paul could be referring to being patient with people I say this because a Bible verse certainly comes to mind:  Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant (1 Corinthians 13:4).    But in another sense he could be speaking about being patient in the circumstances he found himself in because Paul did not quit:  I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; (2 Timothy 4:7).
 
In kindness – this speaks of Paul’s gentleness of spirit, his even temperament; no matter how badly other people were treating him, Paul took the high-road, so to speak, and not the low-road.  Paul chose the Lord’s path of gentleness:  Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls (Matthew 11:29).   Now I, Paul, myself urge you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ – I who am meek when face to face with you, but bold toward you when absent!  (2 Corinthians 10:1; Ephesians 4:32).

In the Holy Spirit – Paul’s referring to his personal behavior in the spirit, which was produced by the Holy Spirit:  I am telling the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience testifies with me in the Holy Spirit (Romans 9:1). 

…for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit (Romans 14:17).
 
…to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles, ministering as a priest the gospel of God, so that my offering of the Gentiles may become acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit (Romans 15:16; See Galatians 5:22-23).   

In genuine love – consider this, what possible good could any minister do unless he loves people sincerely for Paul writes:  Let love be without hypocrisy.  Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good (Romans 12:9).  The type of love Paul is speaking of is agape love and not the world’s definition of love.  (See 1 Corinthians 13). 

In the word of truth – the truth Paul is speaking of is the gospel.  He spoke it plainly so people could understand God’s message, he didn’t water it down, in order to make it palatable to his audiences; he didn’t add to it and he didn’t take anything away from it – Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain.  For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures – this is the gospel that saves today (2 Corinthians 13:8).

By the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and the left – to be honest, the Bible doesn’t say what Paul meant by this, but Paul often uses people and things from everyday life to serve as metaphors when he teaches.  One example is the Roman soldier and if you’ll turn to Ephesians 6:10-18, you’ll find Paul writing about the full armor of God (v13).  The Roman soldier was not only the best equipped solider on the battle field he was the best trained.  He entered battle with defensive and offensive weapons.   His shield served as a defensive weapon (v16), and this would be in his left hand.   The Roman sword, known as the Gladius, was a short, stabbing blade, less than 24” in length.  Its design was lethal.  If used with enough force in close quarters and directed at vulnerable parts of the body, say the abdomen or chest region, one strike was usually fatal.  The Gladius was a right-handed weapon. 

Paul and his co-workers did not use military weapons to overcome their circumstances.  They fought the good fight wearing the full armor of God such as taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.   When they were prepared to go on the offense, in their right hand they wielded the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God (v17b). 

By glory and dishonor - Paul made sure he and his fellow laborers for the Lord lived a Christ-like life so when people started to throw accusations their way none would stick.  This helped their cause tremendously:  giving no cause for offense in anything, so that the ministry will not be discredited (v6:3).   Here Paul is saying no matter what the world’s opinion of them or their ministry may be they gave no offence.  They weren’t honored by everyone, everywhere and they were seldom treated respectfully outside the churches Paul planted.  The long and the short of Paul’s statement is this, people are going to gossip that’s what unregenerate people do, but the only thing that matters is that his life and his life’s work pleases God:  For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain (Philippians 1:21).

By evil report and good report – an evil report involves the distortion of the truth.  Paul’s saying their motives were questioned and their names were slandered.  They were called deceivers, imposters, and various other names by the false teachers and by the people they were ministering to, but in all this, as in everything commending ourselves as servants of God, in much endurance (v4a).  Paul did not return evil for evil, instead he consistently bore these insults because it gave him opportunity to express a Christ-like life (1 Cor 13). 

Regarded as deceivers and yet trueScripture isn’t clear as to the meaning of this phrase either, but I direct your attention back to my introductory message about Jesus Christ being the absolute Truth.  Paul was called by the risen, glorified Lord Jesus Christ to be His apostle to the Gentiles; to speak the gospel of the grace of God to all. Did the majority of people accept him and his message?  That would be no.  The majority of people will accept you, if you get down in the muck and mire of this world right along with them (Romans 1:28-32), but should you begin to tell them Jesus died for their sins… well, now you’ve created a problem for them.  For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his (or her) deeds will be exposed.” (John 3:20)  

They aren’t rejecting you when you speak the gospel; they’re rejecting the Lord Jesus Christ.  This has been going on for centuries:  But when his brethren were gone up, then went he also up unto the feast, not openly, but as it were in secret.  Then the Jews sought him at the feast, and said, Where is he?  And there was much murmuring among the people concerning him:  for some said, He is a good man:  others said, Nay; but he deceiveth the people (John7:10-12).

For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from (what) the truth (of God’s Word) and will turn aside to myths (the teachings of men and women) - 2 Timothy 4:3-4.

We’re still living in the age of ignorance.  Although the Bible remains a best-seller year after year, it remains the most un-read book of all time.  God wants to communicate with mankind, but the human race, for the most part, isn’t interested. 
 
As unknown yet always rejoicing – the KJV translates this phrase thusly, “As unknown, and yet well known,” the word yet was added by the translators (it’s in italics) which means it’s not in the original text, therefore it’s not needed.  It could be read “As unknown and well-known.”  Our Apostle Paul was not like many of the flamboyant, well paid professional speakers of his day.  He’s certainly not comparable to the showy ministers of today and yesteryear, i.e. he wasn’t chasing after fame, fortune, glory, or power.  I’m reminded of the T.V. evangelists who recently came under senate investigation because the possibility exists they are using their ministry for financial gain, since their incomes appear to be excessive; each one earning millions of dollars annually and their lifestyles reflect that of a millionaires.

It wasn’t Paul’s fancy wardrobe that made him well-known or his expensive jewelry; it was the truth he was preaching, both far and near, to all peoples, despite his rather unpleasant circumstances:  Let a man so account of us, as of the minister of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God.  Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.  But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged of you, or of man’s judgment:  yea, I judge not mine own self.  For I know nothing by myself:  but he that judgeth me is the Lord (1 Corinthians 4:1-4).

As dying yet behold, we live – Paul’s opposition thought he was finished on many occasions, i.e. they believed the circumstances he went through would “do him in.”  But they were wrong here’s what Paul wrote:  For we who live are constantly being delivered over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh (2 Corinthians 4:11).  Paul knew these hardships, persecutions, and trials were being permitted by God.  They were training him for the days ahead; for even more fruitful service.  I’m reminded I have to prune my fruit trees and flowering shrubs to encourage growth and that’s exactly what God was doing to Paul.  I have to admit the shrubs and trees don’t look their best after a good pruning, but it sure pays off later on when I see lots of fruit hanging on the tree and my shrubs are bursting with colorful blooms.  Of course, no one likes being chastened I believe we’re all in agreement with that.  But this book says: FOR THOSE WHOM THE LORD LOVES HE DISCIPLINES, AND HE SCOURGES EVERY SON (and daughter) WHOM HE RECEIVES” (Hebrews 12:6).   Where did I get the idea Paul was being disciplined?  From this book; read the next line…

As punished yet not put to death (v9).  As I’ve said many times before, Paul was not perfect – he was no saint in that respect.  He made mistakes just like you and I, but he became a better man; a more fruitful servant of the Lord as time went on. 

As sorrowful yet always rejoicing – here Paul is saying:  For out of much affliction and anguish of heart I wrote to you with many tears; not so that you would be made sorrowful, but that you might know the love which I have especially for you (2 Corinthians 2:4).  Paul expressed an internal joy and peace the world could not understand expressing:  Great is my confidence in you; great is my boasting on your behalf.  I am filled with comfort; I am overflowing with joy in all our affliction (2 Corinthians 7:4). 

As poor yet making many rich – Paul is contrasting the physical with the spiritual here. We know Paul was not wealthy he labored as the Lord’s called apostle with his hands.  He certainly was not a first century version of Robin Hood in the sense that he made many rich.  What he means to say is he taught many people about the riches of Christ Jesus:  To me, the very least of all saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ… (Ephesians 3:8); But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves (2 Corinthians 4:7).

As having nothing yet possessing all things – Many Believers struggle to earn a living; they literally live from one paycheck to the next.  They have very little by the world’s standards yet according to our heavenly Father Believers are heirs of all things through Christ Jesus:  …and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him (Romans 8:17, 32; 1 Cor 3:21-23).  There are many reasons to give Lord thanks and praise each day, Amen. 

I don’t know if you’re familiar with the movie Annie but it serves as the ideal illustration for what God has done for the Believer in Christ Jesus.  When Annie moves from the orphanage to Daddy Warbuck’s lavish mansion it’s a startling change for her.  She leaves behind a spiteful, alcoholic caretaker and enters a relationship with a loving, caring father.  She goes from having zero possessions to having a fortune at her disposal.  This is similar to what being a co-heir with Christ means, “We share in His sufferings in order that we may also share in His glory.”  Considering our former state, we were slaves to sin, and dead to God, but now God has adopted us into His family making us rich in Christ, based on the righteousness of Christ (Romans 8:15-17; Ephesians 2:13). 

(To be continued)

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GJ Heitzman’s Ministry
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Friday, March 24, 2017

2 Corinthians 6:1-10) (Lesson 15)



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

Established November 2008                                                     Published weekly on Friday

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)

2 Corinthians (6:1-10)                                                      (Lesson 15)       

Greetings; and welcome to HBS.

Since our Apostle Paul tells us in verse 1 what chapter six is about, I think we can skip the lengthy introduction.  God offers His gift of grace and salvation freely to all (Ephesians 2:8).  Paul urges the Corinthians (and the unsaved people today) not to ignore God’s grace or its benefits (2 Corinthians 5:20; 6:1).  To simply hear the gospel and not act upon it would be like learning of a cure for your terminal illness and do nothing about it or to receive the grace of God in vain.

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Please open your Bible at 2 Corinthians 6:1.

The Ministry Commended

2 Corinthians 6

1: And working together with Him, we also urge you not to receive the grace of God in vain – There are a couple of things worth mentioning here.  Each Believer is actually working together with Him.  Paul writes something similar in 1 Corinthians 3:9a:  For we are God’s fellow workers.  I don’t know if anyone has made you aware of this fact before, but there it is.  Paul’s saying Believers are co-laborers with God in His ministry.  Think about that each time you head out the door in the morning on your way to work or whatever.  It certainly adds something significant to the phrase, “God be with you” -doesn’t it?” 

This brings us to Paul’s point which is people are not to receive the grace of God in vain.  What does this mean?  Permit me to start by saying Paul wrote most of his letters to the churches, to Believers, but there were unbelievers in their midst just as there are unsaved people sitting in our churches today.  You see, these letters were actually read in those churches to those congregations and Believers and unbelievers alike heard the same message.  Not only was Paul aware of this, he meant for this to happen.   

When you read verse 5:20 and 6:1 you ought to pick up a sense of urgency in these passages because that’s the emotion Paul is expressing to his audience.  Why?  Paul expected the Lord to return at any time and he expected to be alive when this occurred (1 Thessalonians 4:15, 17).  Now he wasn’t aware of the hour or the day for only God knows when the fullness of the Gentiles will be completed (Romans 11:25), this is why he preached the gospel to the unsaved with a sense of urgency:   We beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.” (2 Corinthians 5:20)

I think it’s obvious he wasn’t speaking to Believers, but to show you the difference
please follow me in your Bible to Colossians 1:22-23.  Here Paul says Believers have been reconciled to God; he’s not pleading for them to be reconciled, as in verse 5:20:   yet He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach – if indeed you continue in faith firmly established and steadfast, and not moved away from the hope of the gospel that you have heard, which was proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, was made a minister. 

There’s a big difference folks and faith is the key.  Faith is the conduit by which God’s grace and mercy flows to an individual and this has always has been the case dating back to the Garden of Eden experience.  Hebrews 11:6 is one of the two absolutes I point out frequently in Scripture:  And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he (or she) who comes to God must (do what) believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.  Verses 5:20 and Colossians 1:22-23 underline this truth. 

Jesus Christ’s substitutionary death paid the sin debt for all.  Therefore, the word all includes an unbeliever’s sins as well.  However, the unbeliever has not been reconciled to God – not yet.  It’s quite possible they’ve heard the good news about Jesus Christ dying for their sins, but they’ve either ignored God’s invitation or scorned the message, which means they’ve received the grace of God in vain.  Faith in the gospel is the requirement to be saved and to be reconciled to God (5:20).  It isn’t automatic or universal as some people believe and teach. 

Do the Unsaved Die in Their Sins?

Some people believe in Limited Atonement and some believe in Unlimited Atonement.  Atonement means:  the making of reparation for a sin or a mistake.  Those who hold to the Doctrine of Limited Atonement teach Jesus Christ died only for Believers.  The Doctrine of Unlimited Atonement states Christ Jesus died for the sins of all, whether or not they would ever believe in Him.  When you apply this to Jesus Christ’s finished work of the Cross, atonement concerns the reconciliation of God with mankind, as accomplished through the suffering and death of His Son.  Paul highlighted this truth with this statement:  But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for (who) us (Romans 5:8-10). 

But here’s the thing, people can’t come to an agreement; imagine that…  This subject has been debated by theologians, and others, for centuries with no less than 9 separate positions on the atonement of Christ.  Most people wind up in one of the two categories above and this is where the debate concerning Jesus Christ’s atonement is centered.  However, if one studies this book, rightly divided, it supplies the answer to the answer to the lead-in question.

We’ve looked at a few Bible verses that express God’s will in this matter such as:  For the love of Christ controls us, having concluded this, that one died for (how many) all, therefore all died; and He died for all, (2 Corinthians 5:14-15a; 20-21).  I don’t care how hard you try; you’ll never convince me the word all really means some.  Then in 2 Corinthians 5:18-19 Paul gives God’s one Church its marching orders, as opposed to the so called great commission of Matthew 28:16-20:  Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the (what) world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation. 

Here our Apostle Paul compares “us” Believers with “them” (unbelievers).  He declared God reconciledusto Himself through Christ and had given “us” the ministry of reconciliation (the preaching of the gospel).  Paul then stated, “God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not countingtheirtrespasses againstthem.” 

The word “world” can only mean the entire human race to Himself.  Jesus Christ has removed the barrier of sin and death for all.  To us, to Believers, God has committed this good news, the ministry of reconciliation.  Jesus Christ has died, was buried, and rose from the dead for the sins of all mankind.  This is the gospel that saves today.  (See 1 Timothy 2:3-8, 4:10; Titus 2:11-15; Hebrews 2:9-10; 1 Peter 3:18-20). 

There are only two camps in this world; one is either a Believer in Christ Jesus or an unbeliever – there is no middle ground or “fence-sitting.”  Satan owns the fence you’re sitting on, ergo he owns you.  The Apostle John points this out for us:  My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the (what) whole world (which contains Believers and unbelievers alike) - 1 John 2:1-2.   Skip on over to 1 John 4:14, here we read:  We have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son to be the Savior of the World (and not just some but those who come to believe the gospel and those who do not, i.e. the unbelievers).  
 
It couldn’t be any clearer.  There is but one difference between a Believer and an unbeliever and that would be faith in the gospel.  Believers appropriate Christ’s salvation on their behalf while unbelievers do not.  Nevertheless, despite a person’s refusal to accept God’s free gift of grace, Jesus remains the Savior of all, and that biblical truth is indisputable.  You can argue the point from sunup to sundown and it doesn’t change what God said. 

Unless an unbeliever professes their steadfast faith in the gospel before they die, their soul goes to be in hell and not heaven; not because they died in their sins but because they died in unbelief, i.e. sans faith.  At the Great White Throne Judgment (Revelation 20:11-15) the unsaved people will be temporarily released from hell while the legal issue of their permanent placement is decided by the righteous Judge Jesus Christ (John 5:22).  They will first be judged according to their works in the flesh, but as we know no one is justified according to their works (Romans 3:20), so they have a problem.  The Judge will then look for their name in the Book of Life (Revelation 3:5, 20:12-14) because if it is found there they’re qualified for release because they have eternal life.  But they do not, so they are permanently placed in the Lake of Fire, separated from the Judge and God for all of eternity.  How long is eternity, as long as God exists; and God has existed forever!

Getting back to verse 1b, you’ll get no argument from me as to a great many Believers receiving the grace of God in vain, i.e. choosing not to serve in some capacity within the Body of Christ.  There are far too many Christians sitting in their church seats week after week, letting others carry the work-load.  Statistics show 20% of the congregation serve while 80% gladly let them.  But this isn’t what Paul is saying here.

Verse 2 actually harkens back to the subject of reconciliation of the unsaved (5:20) and to verse 1b.

2: for He says, “AT THE ACCEPTABLE TIME I LISTENED TO YOU, AND ON THE DAY OF SALVATION I HELPED YOU.” Behold, now (not tomorrow, next week, next month, or next year; this) is “THE ACCEPTABLE TIME,” behold, now is “THE DAY OF SALVATION” –

The thing Paul is trying to impress upon the people who have not been reconciled to God is you don’t own your next breath or your next heartbeat.  Just because you woke up and saw the sunrise don’t be thinking this somehow guarantees you’ll be around to see the sunset.   God is in control and you’re not.  I can cite examples from my own personal experiences; and I’m sure you can as well.  I know people in my immediate family and those I worked with every day; one day they were alive, energetic, enjoying life, the next day they were gone.  One individual in particular left work one Friday afternoon, intending to take his wife out on a date that night, and while driving home suffered a massive heart attack at a stop light.  He died instantly.   

There’s nothing wrong with personal experiences, but I prefer to let this book do the talking, as it were, so if you would, let’s all turn to the book of Acts, chapter 24:24-25.  Here Paul is talking to Felix, an unbeliever, about spiritual matters:  But some days later Felix arrived with Drusilla, his wife who was a Jewess, and sent for Paul and heard him speak about faith in Christ Jesus.  But as he was discussing righteousness, self-control and the judgment to come, Felix became frightened and said, “Go away for the present, and when I find (what) time I will summon you.” 

If you read on you’ll see Felix put Paul off because he had other interests, money being one of these.   Although Felix summoned Paul several times he was never saved or received reconciliation from God.  People’s hearts and minds haven’t changed much at all over the centuries; something always comes up that appears to be more important than attending to the gospel or their most urgent need of salvation.  But we’re not to give up or give in; people still need to hear God’s truth.  We just need to remember this – keep it between the lines or God’s parameters.  Like Paul, we don’t want to do or say anything to cause offense to the ministry. 

Verse 3:

3: giving no cause for offense in anything, so that the ministry (of righteousness and reconciliation) will not be discredited – Paul himself and his ministry were both being unjustly dishonored by the Corinthians.  So what Paul means to say here is so that our ministry may not be rightly blamed he was determined, both in his personal life and in his ministry, not to permit anything to become an hindrance to his gospel (1 Corinthians 9:12, 19-23). The Greek word for hindrance is Egkope’ (pronounced:  eng-kop-ay’), Noun, Feminine, Strong’s Greek #1464, meaning:  an impediment, an interruption, i.e. to become a road block or an obstruction to progress. 

Now who would want to throw up a road block before God’s gospel and why?  If you’ve been following this study, we already know the answer to these questions.  Please turn to 2 Corinthians 4:3-4.  As to who, that would be Satan.  He hates the true Believer because God loves them and whatever is loved by God is sure to be targeted by the devil – that answers the question, why. 

You know I’m fond of saying, “What does this book say,” and for good reason; there’s so many misconceptions about God and His Word being passed around out there I want to help y’all zero in on the truth.  Here’s one; the devil is not to be underestimated he’s a powerful enemy with goals:  Be sober-minded and alert.  Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8 – Berean Literal Bible).

Satan intends to do everything he can to block your attempt to live the Christ-like life. He definitely doesn’t want you speaking the gospel to others, so he’ll do all he can to interrupt that process too.  Based on what I’m seeing today, I’d say he’s doing better than just o.k.  Satan is successful because Christians aren’t aware of the devil’s schemes:  our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places (Ephesians 6:11-12; 2 Corinthians 2:11, 4:3-4, 11:13-14). 

The average churchgoer isn’t receiving the proper instructions about their adversary or how to stand firm against him from their church leaders, so they’re unaware of these truths.  People are waking up every day and heading on out into Satan’s world, basically defenseless against his schemes, and we wonder why the world is in such a mess…  No one is immune to his deceitful ways.  How many times have you picked up the newspaper and read or turned on the T.V. and seen a church leader hindering God’s ministry of righteousness and the gospel because they were arrested for embezzling church funds or they were caught in a sex scandal?  If it occurs once, it occurs too often – that’s what Paul is saying.   Rather than risk hindering the gospel, literally dragging our Lord and His Cross through the mud, Paul writes:  Give no offense either to Jews or to Greeks or to the Church of God; just as I also please all men (and women) in all things, not seeking my own profit but the profit of the many, so that they may be saved (1 Corinthians 10:32-33; 1 Thessalonians 5:22). 

Paul ensured no offense remained in his life and none appeared in his ministry that would cause someone to stumble.  He became all things to all people (within limits) so that by all means he might save some (1 Corinthians 9:22).

Let’s go to verses 4-10:

but in everything commending ourselves as servants of God, in much endurance, in afflictions, in hardships, in distresses in beatings, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labors, in sleeplessness, in hunger, in purity, in knowledge, in patience, in kindness, in the Holy Spirit, in genuine love, in the word of truth, in the power of God; by the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and the left, by glory and dishonor, by evil report and good report; regarded as deceivers and yet true; as unknown yet well-known, as dying yet behold, we live; as punished yet not put to death, as sorrowful yet always rejoicing, as poor yet making many rich, as having nothing yet possessing all things.

I haven’t mentioned this in quite a while but since Paul brought it up, it’s always a good idea for Believers to keep the Main Thing the Main Thing.  In everything Paul said and did, whether for the ministry, or in his private life, he considered himself the Lord’s servant.  The Greek word for this is Doulos (pronounced:  doo’-los), Noun, Masculine, Strong’s Greek # 1401, meaning:  a male slave; bondslave - namely, of Believers who willingly live under Christ’s authority as His devoted followers.    

In Galatians 6:17b Paul said:  “…for I bear on my body the brand-marks (scars) of Jesus.  The Greek word for brand-mark or scar is Stigma (pronounced:  stig’-mah), Noun, Neuter, Strong’s Greek #4742, meaning:  a brand mark burned into the skin; “holy scars” that go with serving Jesus Christ, figuratively speaking.  These brand-marks or Stigmas marked Paul as a bondslave to the Lord Jesus Christ. 

Paul had said, but in everything (he wanted to) commend ourselves as servants of God.  He spoke of his personal circumstances re: his service for Christ prior to verse 6 and how he dealt with those.  But in the next two verses Paul explains how he copes in the midst of these pressures.  He begins with:  in much endurance and if you stop to think about it, this is the key to persevering in the midst of any trial or in running the race (1 Corinthians 9:24).  Patience, fortitude, stamina, however, you choose to label it, without endurance the “white flag” of surrender is quickly waved before our enemy; is it not?  But Paul waved no such flag…  in afflictions, in hardships, in distresses, in beatings, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labors, in sleeplessness, in hunger… he persevered. 

There isn’t sufficient time to adequately manage the remaining material, so let’s place our bookmark here.  We’ll pick it up from this spot next week, until then please be kind to one another and be busy in the Word.  Have a great week.

(To be continued)

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