2 Corinthians 8-13 ~ Come Follow Me

if anyone - like missionaries come to your door with another gospel about a different kind of Jesus than what you know from the Bible - take the time to share with them the truth by correcting their false doctrines.
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There is a lot to cover in this lesson.  In Chapter 8, Paul commends the Macedonia Christians who wanted to be partners in taking a collection to support the poor saints in Jerusalem.  They viewed it as a privilege.  Their generous response was far more than Paul expected.  Verse 12 “For if there be first a willing mind (if the desire to contribute is in your hearts in the first place), it is accepted according to that a man hath, and not according to that he hath not.”  Carrying this thought over to Chapter 9, Paul adds in Verses 6 “But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully.” In other words, those who donate or give little will harvest fewer blessings from God and those who donate generously will have a bounteous harvest of blessings from God.  Verse 7 “Every man according as he purposeth in his heart (it is up to each person to decide how much he will give), so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity (or because he feels forced): for God loveth a cheerful giver.”  God loves a heart that is enthusiastic with the pleasure of giving.  He doesn’t attach our giving with compulsion or obligation as in the form of paying tithing in order to be worthy – like certain works-based religious systems do.    

In Chapter 10, Paul spends his time defending His apostleship before the believers at Corinth.  However, in Chapter 11, Paul unleashes some real gems of inspiration on us while he continues to prove his authority as an apostle.  Verse 3 “But I fear, lest by means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty (cunning), so your minds should be corrupted (taken away) from the simplicity that is in Christ.”  In Galatians, we’ll find a false Gospel had been embraced by the Galatians.  Perhaps it is simply taking the Good News and adding to it or taking away from the Gospel.  We know that’s what religion does through the manipulation of the Word of God and the twisting of Scripture.  2 Corinthians 11:4 “For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him.”  In other words, if anyone – like missionaries come to your door with another gospel about a different kind of Jesus than what you know from the Bible – take the time to share with them the truth by correcting their false doctrines. text. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Ut elit tellus, luctus nec ullamcorper mattis, pulvinar dapibus leo

Paul now directs his readers to the dangers of Satan-sponsored false prophets, and other deceitful workers who apparently have worked themselves into positions of influence among some believers in Corinth.  Verse 13 “For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ.”  These men are trying to make you think they are true Apostles of Jesus Christ.   Paul said back in Romans 16:17-18 “Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offenses contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned and avoid them.  For they are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good works and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.”  Paul warned in Galatians 1:7 “but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ.”  Peter gets into the act by saying in 2 Peter 2:1 “But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon them-selves swift destruction.”  And then we have John in 1 John 4:1 “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.”  And the big one is Jesus speaking to the church in the Book of Revelation 2:2 “I know thy works, and thy labor, and thy patience, and how thou can’t not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars:”  They pretend to be apostles – but have no Divine commission from God.  This is a direct charge of hypocrisy – because they – the false apostles – knew that they were not sent by Christ. 

Paul adds, 2 Corinthians 11:14 “And no marvel (and it is no wonder that they are trying to do this); for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.”  Satan could appear as though he were holy, good, pure, and therefore from the presence of God.  Verse 15 “Therefore (or since Satan has this ability) it is no great thing (it shouldn’t be surprising) if his (Satan’s) ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.”  If we were to stop and examine ourselves – we can look the part – well dressed, well groomed, well spoken, etc.  We can live a double life by appearing to be something that, is different than what is in our hearts and minds.  This is not to say that respectable looking people are diabolical, nor that unkept people are good or virtuous.  I’m just saying, that there are those who can really be deceiving by the way they present themselves to others.  This is Paul’s point about the false apostles in his day.  And it is the reason why Jesus says in John 7:24 “Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.”  In Jesus and Paul’s day, the religious leaders paraded themselves about in outer robes of righteousness.  Could there be a connection with the way self-proclaimed apostles up on North Temple are ALWAYS dressed in their dark suits of deception?  Paul here is teaching “whose end shall be according to their works.”  We can be fooled – but God cannot be fooled.  There will be a day of judgment when imposters are unmasked, and when all hypocrites and deceivers will be seen in their true colors. 

When I was active LDS, I had a wonderful man who was my home-teacher.  He was the son of an LDS apostle – even the President of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles.  One month he came alone without his companion.  I felt it was a safe moment to ask him a direct question about his father’s calling.  I asked in a kind manner if his father had ever been visited by the resurrected Lord – for that is one of the biblical qualifiers for being a true apostle.  Well, my home-teacher’s face turned bright red with embarrassment, when he couldn’t confirm that his father had seen the Lord.  He said his father’s calling was to be a “special witness.”  I told him – a true apostle of the Lord received his commission directly from the Lord.  And that he was bold in declaring to the world his witness of the resurrected Lord – as did Paul.  That ended our conversation and he never, ever came back to my house to fulfill his home-teaching assignment again.   I can’t even imagine how any man on earth can call himself an apostle, a high priest – when he knows he doesn’t measure up to the caliber of men called in Christ’s day – like Peter, James, John, and Paul.  I don’t know how they live with their conscience, unless they have been completely deceived by the Prince of darkness to become ministers of Satan.  In comparing himself to these false apostles, Paul goes into great detail in 2 Corinthians 11:23-31 to show what suffering he had endured as a means to share his ministry for Christ with the world. 

Okay, on to Chapter 12 where Paul speaking of visions and revelations says, Verse 2 “I knew a man in Christ (I was acquainted with a Christian) above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether our of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) such an one caught up to the third heaven.”  In scripture it’s not uncommon for a writer to speak of himself in the third person.  So, Paul could be talking about himself here, or he could be referring to John the Beloved known as, John the Revelator.  Remember, John was caught up into heaven.  Revelation 4:1-2 “After this I looked, and, behold a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter.  And immediately I was in the spirit: and, behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne.”  So, Paul adds regarding this man who was caught up in the third heaven, “whether in the body, I cannot tell.”   Whether the body was caught up to heaven; whether the soul was for a time separated from the body and went to heaven; or whether the scene passed before his mind in a heavenly vision – we aren’t certain. 

At this point, I have to mention the Sunday School Manual which says, “The phrase ‘the third heaven’ refers to the celestial kingdom (see D&C 76:96-98).”  But we need to look at Paul’s statement in the context of the Jewish culture, who divided the heavens into three:  First heaven – the sky and atmosphere including the clouds.  Second heaven – Space which included the sun, moon, planets, and stars.  Third heaven – the heaven beyond the stars which was supposed to be the residence of God, angels, and spirits.  It was this upper heaven, the dwelling-place of God, to which Paul was taken, and whose wonders he was permitted to behold.  2 Corinthians 12:3-4 “And I knew such a man, (whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;)  How that he was caught up into paradise (the third heaven), and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.”  Apparently, Paul nor John could not attempt by words to do justice to what he saw or heard.   

2 Corinthians 12:7 “And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations (and just in case I were to become prideful because of the many revelations I have been given), there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet (which in the Greek means to pound or batter) me, lest I should be exalted above measure (for fear that I should become prideful).”  We don’t know what Paul’s “thorn in the flesh” was.  Whether it was some physical problem – some speculate it was his bad eyesight, or an injury that wouldn’t heal.  Or, it could have been a spiritual difficulty – something he struggled with.  Or, it could have been difficulty with someone from his past Pharisaical life – who followed him around to remind him of the horrible things he did to the Christians.  It’s all conjecture.   Verse 8-10 “For this thing (the thorn in the flesh) I besought the Lord thrice (three times), that it might depart from me.  And he (the Lord) said unto me, My grace (my mercy, my will) is sufficient for thee (better for you than granting your desire): for my strength is made perfect in weakness (the Lord’s strength is manifested in our weaknesses, because others will know that it isn’t us in our flesh who deserve the credit – all the glory goes to God).  Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.  Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches (insults), in necessities (hardships), in persecutions, in distresses (difficulties) for Christ’s sake (because of my commitment to Christ): for when I am weak, then am I strong.”  There is comfort for us in what Paul tells us here.  Many of us pray with great faith for God to heal us, or a loved one, or to remove a problem from our lives, etc. – but it doesn’t happen.  It is comforting to know that someone with as much faith as Paul had, didn’t get what he asked for either.  The Lord’s will is done in such matters, and that is important for us to understand so that we do not get bitter and angry with God. 

And this concludes our study of the Epistle of 2 Corinthians.  Don’t forget, we are on YouTube, iTunes podcast, Spotify podcast.

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Until next time, God Bless!

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Come Follow Me Schedule - 2020

Jan 6-12
1 Nephi 1-7
Dec 30 – Jan 5
Introduction to the Book of Mormon Part 1
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Introduction to the Book of Mormon Part 2
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1 Nephi 8-10
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1 Nephi 11-15