Summary: How did Paul respond to his critics ... ? ... Paul "... said, but we proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles" (I Cor.1:23 NRSV). The true gospel of Jesus Christ removes all crutches that people use to prop up their pretentiousness!
Text: II Corinthians 4:5 - 12,
2 Corinthians 4:5-12 For we do not proclaim ourselves; we proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord and ourselves as your slaves for Jesus' sake. (6) For it is the God who said, "Let light shine out of darkness," who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. (7) But we have this treasure in clay jars, so that it may be made clear that this extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us. (8) We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; (9) persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; (10) always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be made visible in our bodies. (11) For while we live, we are always being given up to death for Jesus' sake, so that the life of Jesus may be made visible in our mortal flesh. (12) So death is at work in us, but life in you.
In his book Courageous, the Rev. Dr. Robert Jeffress has a profound observation. He says, “I’m convinced, that more than ever, we live in a time when victomhood is celebrated. There’s even a name for people who seemingly cannot cope with the difficulties of life: “snowflakes.” These people are self-absorbed, easily offended, and often retreat to so-called safe places when they are unable to cope with opposing viewpoints. Actions like these perpetuate the general notion in our culture that we are all victims---victims of our parents’ shortcomings, victims of our society’s ills, and victims of poor education, hypocritical churches, or government incompetence and corruption”. (Dr. Robert Jeffress. Courageous. Grand Rapids, Baker Book House, 2020, p. 98). Why is this a problem in the spiritual realm? It is a problem because it can create a false gospel that blinds people to the light of true gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. Victimhood can easily turn into an agenda of manipulation where squeaky wheels will always be screaming for grease. How many people world today are blinded a this man-made gospel or any other man-made gospel that blinds people to the light of the true Gospel of Jesus Christ? The devil always divides and subtracts but God adds and multiplies!
How did Paul respond to his critics who opposed the true Gospel? This is not the first time that Paul dealt with this topic in his letters to the people of Corinth. In I Corinthians 1:23 Paul said, but we proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles (NRSV). The true Gospel takes away all pretentiousness! The true gospel of Jesus Christ removes all crutches that people use to prop up their pretentiousness!
Today we will address false gospels, resentment and trust.
Why do non-believers oppose the true Gospel so much? The true gospel of Jesus Christ removes all crutches that people use to prop up their pretentiousness!
1) False gospels: How many people build their lives on the blue prints of false Gospels? Neither The “victomhood gospel”, the success gospel, the materialism gospel, nor any other gospel can save us. No one can save himself or herself from the wages of sin which is death or the power of sin that enslaves them.
2) An avowed infidel’s challenge: “The strongest argument for the Gospel of Christ is the personal testimony of someone whose life has been changed by it. Charles Bradlaugh, an avowed infidel, once challenged the Rev. H. P. Hughes to a debate. The preacher, who was head of a rescue mission in London, England, accepted the challenge with the condition that he could bring with him 100 men and women who would tell what had happened in their lives since trusting Christ as their Savior. They would be people who once lived in deep sin, some having come from poverty-stricken homes caused by the vices of their parents. Hughes said they would not only tell of their conversion, but would submit to cross-examination by any who doubted their stories. Furthermore, the minister invited his opponent to bring a group of non-believers who could tell how they were helped by their lack of faith. When the appointed day arrived, the preacher came, accompanied by 100 transformed persons. But Bradlaugh never showed up. The result? The meeting turned into a testimony time and many sinners who had gathered to hear the scheduled debate were converted”. Galaxie Software. (2002). 10,000 Sermon Illustrations. Biblical Studies Press. [original source unknown]. How many people do we know that would accept a challenge like that?
Remember how Saul was once an adversary to Christians?
1) Transformation: Remember how Saul was like the equivalent of a bounty hunter of Christians? Saul had witnessed and approved of the stoning of Stephen. Then Saul began to ravage the church going from house to house gathering Christians to be sent to prison until he encountered the crucified and risen Lord Jesus Christ himself on the road to Damascus (see Acts 7 - 9). As we know, Saul also came to be known as Paul after he became filled with the Holy Spirit (Acts 13:9). Although he might have looked the same on the outside, Saul had a changed heart on the inside.