Summary: We are to respect those in spiritual authority, and we are to respect those who pour themselves out for the Gospel. Paul deserved respect on both counts.
A Servant Who Should Be Respected
2 Corinthians 12: 11-18
1. With the disaster of Hurricane Sandy and the misery and grief it brought, we are reminded about how vulnerable we all are.
2. This life is filled with twists, turns, and uncertainties. The only real insurance is the assurance of our salvation. The spiritual realm is the realm of stability.
3. Yet once we come to know the Lord, there is much to learn. The biggest handicap is found among those who think they know when in reality they do not.
4. Spiritual knowledge is something we accumulate over time; it is work and expends both the mind and the soul. For some, it is like breaking an impossible code:
5. “George Smith died on Oct. 30 … Smith was part of a Marine unit of Native Americans who created a complex and secret code based on the Navajo language. Because Navajo is an unwritten language that was passed through generations, it is difficult for a non-Navajo speaker to translate, according to navajocodetalkers.org.
The words of the code, which were committed to memory by the Code Talkers, were used in communications in key battles, such as Guadalcanal and Iwo Jima, the official site of the Code Talkers notes.
“The Japanese never managed to crack the code.” [source: yahoo.com, The Lookout]
6. This is one reason why we need teachers, and we need to be eager to learn.
7. You might ask, “What is the difference between an apostle and disciple? Do we have apostles today? Or, better yet, do we have the same kind of apostles today?”
8. Many people claim to be apostles…to have a special corner on God.
“I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false.” (Revelation 2:2)
Main Idea: We are to respect those in spiritual authority, and we are to respect those who pour themselves out for the Gospel. Paul deserved respect on both counts.
I. AUTHORITY: Paul A True Apostle (11-12)
A. Paul would rather talk about JESUS than himself
• If the Corinthians would have stood up for Paul, he would not have to
B. Conflict diverts a church from it primary DIRECTIVE
• Paul forced into a competition he would not rather be part of
• Rabbi said two pieces of paper; when feeling worthless, one says, “God made the world for me.” When arrogant, “I am made of dust & ashes.”
C. The Apostles unique roles were unique AGENTS of Jesus Christ
Berakoth 34b, “If one makes a mistake in his tefillah it is a bad sign for him, and if he is a reader of the congregation it is a bad sign for those who have commissioned him, because a man’s agent is equivalent to himself.”
D. Apostles were not appointed by the church, but were independently CONTRACTED by Jesus Christ Himself
1. ABOVE the church yet part of the church
Galatians 1:15-17, “But when he who had set me apart before I was born, and who called me by his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son to me, in order that I might preach him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately consult with anyone; nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me, but I went away into Arabia, and returned again to Damascus.”
2. All JEWISH. Jesus promised 12 Apostles would rule (Matthew 19:28)
“And Jesus said to them, ‘Truly I say to you, that you who have followed Me, in the regeneration when the Son of Man will sit on His glorious throne, you also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.’”
3. Personally appointed by JESUS (Luke 6:13)
“And when day came, he called his disciples and chose from them twelve, whom he named apostles.”
4. Eyewitnesses to the RESURRECTED Jesus (Acts 1:15-20)
I Corinthians 9:1-2, “Am I not free? Am I not an apostle? Have I not seen Jesus our Lord? Are not you my workmanship in the Lord? If to others I am not an apostle, at least I am to you, for you are the seal of my apostleship in the Lord.”
5. The Apostles REVEALED the Gospel (Ephesians 3:3-5)
“…how the mystery was made known to me by revelation, as I have written briefly. When you read this, you can perceive my insight into the mystery of Christ, which was not made known to the sons of men in other generations as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit.”
6. The Apostles poured the FOUNDATION of the church (Ephesians 2:20)
“… built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone.”