Summary: Tests, weakness, God's power, grace
2 Cor 12: 7-10 September 2, 2012
Why did God put thorns on roses? Well, here is the answer from a Harvard Science Professor…
Rose plants have prickles not thorns. Prickles are sharp pointed hairs that contain epidermal and subepidermal tissues. A thorn is a short, sharp modified stem. Roses use prickles to ward off predators which may help extend their life.
New answer, but the rose didn’t choose to have a thorn…excuse me “prickle”
Now evolution might teach that the rose plant miraculously sensed its need to not “ete” and so over millions of years “prickles” evolved to protect its beautiful blooms from being munched upon.
For those of us that approach the world through a “biblical” world view we would say, “God designed the rose’s beauty and put the thorns there for its protection. Without the thorns it just wouldn’t last very long…hmmmmm.
There could be a biblical application to that theory…in fact some intelligent good teaching ministers might even develop an entire series about thorns and roses from 2 Cor 12: Listen to it
2 Cor 12: 1-10 (p 821)
The saying look at my heart…look at my motives, it was never about money…ever. But these “Super apostles” have tried to offer you a different Jesus with a different spirit…”Wake Up…the spirit of Christ isn’t selfish or self focused…Jesus is the head of the church…but always showed a servant’s heart…haven’t I saved you free of charge…
And then Paul gives a warning about those men…
2 Cor 11: 13-15 (p821) “Their end will be what their actions deserve”
It’s in His defense of who he is that Paul shares Chapter 12…it’s his glory and his pain…He’s standing there spiritually speaking in his “boxer” shorts…as if he’s speaking about himself and his experience.
“I know a man in Christ who 14 years ago was caught up into the 3rd Heaven…I don’t know whether he was in his body or if it was just his spirit…God knows. He heard heavenly expressions…beyond his ability to share. I’ll boast about a man like that.”
Mystical people have as their aim a religious experience where they see God…dreams, visions, circumstantial experiences…where you experience the presence of God…all are beyond reality…
Mystical stuff is scary and sometime “stupid or satanic”
Seeing Jesus in a piece of toast or after taking Peyton buttons…mystical, but certainly not trustworthy…
So as Paul tells this mystery about being in heaven and experiencing the presence of God as proof of his calling…why should the Corinthian’s believe him, why should anyone? Well, what happened 14 years before he wrote this helps us understand his glory…and his thorn.
Some believe this happened at his conversion…during the 3 days he was blind…but many, myself included believe it took place after Saul was stoned in Lystra…the timing is about right…Paul is preaching, but Jews from Iconium and Antioch (remember this is the place he was ordained in) they persuaded the crowd to stone Paul…they did, and then they dragged him out of the city, presuming he was dead…(and he might have been, who knows…was he still in his body or not…God knows)
After the crowd leaves the disciples gather around Paul’s’ body and pray…and he gets up and went back into the city to preach the gospel once more.
It would take something pretty motivating to get someone to go back to the place they’d just been stoned to death.
Mystical things aren’t stupid or frivolous….but Paul hadn’t told anyone this for 14 years, nor does he mention it again…He’s been accused of boasting being a braggart…so why does he do this here…in defense of his ministry….because for Him it’s one of the most powerful reinforcements of God’s teaching his life and he doesn’t care if anyone else believes him…what God has done to call and convince Paul, the former blasphemous, violent and aggressive, arrogant sinner constantly rattles around in his heart. The dog rescued from the pound is always grateful.
[I remember a “mystical “ part of my conversion…there were several, but the one that continually…convinces me of God’s pursuit has to do with a car…and 7 starters…I’ve shared this with very close friends and family, but I don’t think I’ve ever shared it from the pulpit…during the later part of my rebellious life when God began to convict me of my sin and also put Godly people in my life I was torn between surrender and selfishness…I hadn’t completely chosen to turn my life over to God…I had this car…a Fiat…I hadn’t gone back to school, yet and was still working at K.F. C. until the start of the New Year…and for a 2 month time period it drove perfect when I was going to work or to youth group or a church activity…but it wouldn’t start when I got into it to go and get high or head to a party..I put 7 starters on that car in 2 months…and after I gave my life to Christ I never had to put a starter on it again….]