Series on II Corinthianas III The Defense of Paul's Apostleship, B Caring, 1 Betrothal to Christ Text: 11:1-15. Title: The Great Engagement

Introduction

This part of Second Corinthians is concerned with Paul's defense of his apostleship in the face of false teachers. We are caught in a cosmic battle between truth and falsehood. The populace at large ignores the peril. Truth is low on our list of priorities. We are losing the battle for the souls of men. Jesus said in  John 8:3 and 32, "If you hold to my teaching you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free." The Jews responded falsely that they had never been slaves of anyone. Our tendency is to think we are free when we can do what we want, but if what we want is false we are not free. False teachers, whether in Paul's day or ours, bring people into bondage. America is in bondage to false views of reality. So, how do you recognize the difference? In this passage Paul contrasts himself with the false teachers. We note four characteristics displayed in the true apostle. caring, called, credible, charitable. This is how you can differentiate between the true and the false.

I Caring

Paul is obviously embarrassed to have to refer to himself in verse 1, I hope you will put up with a little of my foolishness; but you are already doing that. This is not a man with delusions of grandeur. He is not focused on his career or his success. He knows that there is only one place where success comes before work, that's in the dictionary. Our culture wants heroes, but the heroes of our time are often empty people who promote themselves. Unworthy of our adulation they nevertheless find it all too easy to attract millions of fanatical followers. Such were the false teachers in Corinth. By contrast, the apostle Paul is jealous over the Corinthians. He says in verses 2 and 3, I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy. I promised you to one husband, to Christ, so that I might present you as a pure virgin to him. But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ. His illustration is instructive. I have ten granddaughters, and once in a while for the older ones, the subject of boys comes up, And then the subject of marriage comes up. When that happens my son and sons-in law all react in exactly the same way, maybe in thirty years, and any young man that marries you will have to meet my standards. Those standards so far as I can tell are approximately a combination of Albert Einstein, Abraham Lincoln, and the apostle Paul, all rolled up into one. Fathers may tend to be excessive in this, but they have a godly jealousy. That's how Paul felt with the Corinthians. This is the mark of a true Apostle, he cares.

II Called

A true Apostle is also called. Notice what Paul says in v.4 For if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily enough. He begins by saying if someone comes to you, which is a deliberate contrast. Paul did not come to them, he was sent. The very word “apostle” means a sent one. And the evidence that Paul was sent and did not come of his own accord is the gospel he was compelled to bring to them. Paul says in Galatians 1:9, If anyone preaches another gospel let him be cursed. The gospel is unique. It stands utterly alone. Paul's world was filled with religion. At the Areopagus in Athens Paul said, according to Acts 17:22-24  Men of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious. For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: TO AN UNKNOWN GOD. Now what you worship as something unknown I am going to proclaim to you. The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands. This, the Apostle affirms is the only true God and he adds in verse 31, He has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to all men by raising him from the dead. The gospel Paul summarizes for the Corinthians in I Corinthians 15 is that Jesus died for our sins and rose again. This is unique, and you cannot add to it, and the world cannot add to it. It must not be compromised or adulterated. It stands alone. This is an Apostle called and compelled to preach the gospel, and nothing but the gospel of God's grace, at his own loss.

III Credible

Paul was believable because he preached that gospel that Christ died for our sins and rose again for our justification in opposition to human wisdom. Oratory was a fine art in the Graeco-Roman culture. You should not think that the apostle was a bad speaker, but he did not follow the superfluous and vain Greek model. In my life I have heard some of the most eloquent and carefully composed sermons that were full of falsehood. The false teachers in Corinth were orators. The difference here is between flowery rhetoric and truth. Orators were paid for their ability to wax eloquent. Let me remind you that the Gettysbyrg Address, that sacred and honored document was delivered by Abraham Lincoln on a date on which Edward Everett, former Secretary of State, Senator, Governor of Massachussetts, and President of Harvard was the main speaker. He was a renowned orator and had the original date changed because he needed more time to prepare his speech. He spoke 2 hours and used 13,607 words and nobody remembers what he said in his flowery oration.  Lincoln spoke 3 minutes and used ten sentences, but the truth echos down the years. Paul, like Lincoln, on the other hand, says  in verses 5 and 6, But I do not think I am in the least inferior to those “super-apostles.” I may not be a trained speaker, but I do have knowledge. We have made this perfectly clear to you in every way. He had already told them in I Corinthians 2:2-5, When I came to you, brothers, I did not come with eloquence or superior wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God.  For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. I came to you in weakness and fear, and with much trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on men's wisdom, but on God’s power. The false teachers are described further on in our text in verses 13-15, For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, masquerading as apostles of Christ.  And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then, if his servants masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve. Perhaps they taught salvation by works. Maybe they said you needed a higher spiritual experience. Paul says no to their masquerade.Paul wrote to the Galatians if righteousness is through the law then Christ died for nothing. These people were taught the simplicity of the gospel. If somebody tells you that there are  things you have to do other than to receive and rest upon Christ alone and as you have received him to walk in him, then that is a false gospel.

IV Charitable

In verses 7-12, Paul reflects on the fact that he never allowed the Corinthians to support him while he was teaching them. Was it a sin for me to lower myself in order to elevate you by preaching the gospel of God to you free of charge? I robbed other churches by receiving support from them so as to serve you.  And when I was with you and needed something, I was not a burden to anyone, for the brothers who came from Macedonia supplied what I needed. I have kept myself from being a burden to you in any way, and will continue to do so. As surely as the truth of Christ is in me, nobody in the regions of Achaia will stop this boasting of mine. Why? Because I do not love you? God knows I do! And I will keep on doing what I am doing in order to cut the ground from under those who want an opportunity to be considered equal with us in the things they boast about. Paul worked with his own hands, and he was supported by others, including the brethren from Macedonia, who as you know, were much poorer than the Corinthians. Paul believed in supporting pastors and teachers. We follow his example when we send out missionaries. We pay so that others may receive the gospel without charge. Remember that Greek orators were paid. They sold their wisdom for money. Socrates was criticized for teaching for free. These men were professionals and the bigger their remuneration or honorarium the better they were considered to be, like many fancy speakers today. You know how human nature is. If people get it for free they don't think its worth much. We have to cope with that reality, but we all need to realize that the best things in life really are free. In Romans 5 Paul refers to our salvation as God's abundant provision of grace and the gift of righteousness. It is free.

Conclusion

Show me a person who doesn't care; who isn't called but is self styled and self appointed; show me a person who is not credible because he doesn't preach Christ crucified; show me a person who is greedy and not charitable and I'll show you a false teacher. and they are all around you in the world today.