Summary: Paul finishes 2 Corinthians with 3 tests. The test for leaders (Apostles, in this case). The test for all christians and the test for the church. This sermon applies those tests.
Three final tests. 2 Cor 12:11-13:14. WBC 17 July 05 pm
We’re at the end of our series, now
- Paul has been having to justify himself… defend his ministry
- But he does so by humbling himself!
o While all the other ’super-apostles’ spend all the time promoting themselves.
I have to say- humility is SO powerful!
- (it’s one of my strong points! //// I jest!)
- but it IS. E.g. Fri pm Peter Doyle’s farewell service
o what is so powerful about him is his humility
Kingdom ways are so different to the world’s
- e.g.: the Young bloke screeching from the junction with windows down and music blaring out. In a "Vauxhall Corsa" no less!
o Why do we do it?
o Is anyone impressed?
- But the kingdom way is: "humble yourself under the Lord’s hand, and HE will lift you up"
But having utterly humbled himself, and been honest about his weaknesses, Paul does apply a test
- to himself
- the apostle’s test. Leader’s test
THE TEST FOR LEADERS
Signs wonders and miracles.
Oi, hang on! What signs, wonders and miracles?
- he is introduced to Corinth in Acts 18. And there’s no mention of any miracles there.
- Nothing in 1 Cor (apart from general gifts of the Spirit) or 2nd Cor.
Imagine miracles being such a normal part of your… church… evangelistic life that you don’t have to record them!
- they are simply ’taken as red’
- You only mention them at the end… when you have to… when you have to remind people what God’s done through you
Such were the apostolic days
Such HAVE been days since then
Augustine 5C says in his book ’city of God’ that "even now miracles are wrought in the name of Christ. He cites a number and goes on to say he knows of so many miraculous healings that he says at one point ’what am I to do? I am so pressed by the promise of finishing this work that I cannot record all the miracles I know... even now, therefore many miracles are wrought , the same God who wrought these we read of, still performing them by whom He wills and as He wills" Cited in Questions of Life by Nicky Gumble (Alpha)
And such are some days, now
- Africa, S America
- For all it’s oddities, and what it can do to people who get sucked unquestioningly into its culture- miracles are happening in the Synagogue. Undeniably
o = easy for me, as God’s called me to something far harder: bringing the gospel and power of God, HERE
So- the test for Paul… the verification of his Apostolic ministry… is the signs and wonders. AND the fact that they were done with great perseverance
- i.e., it wasn’t just an evangelistic campaign that swept in, hauled people to the front, saw some healings and then was gone (making dramatic claims of 1000s healed)
- he stayed. Years. S& W were the full and normal part of years of work among them.
- He persevered: he prayed long and hard for those who weren’t healed instantly. He stayed and followed up on those who needed more than just a ’heal them, Lord’. He stayed with… and brought Christ to… those who weren’t healed (as I’m sure some weren’t. 2 Tim 4:20 "Trophimus I left sick")
- He was around long enough to verify that many were in fact genuinely and permanently, long-term healed!
- He made it work in the local church
And the evidence was there in piles (piles of crutches and wheelchairs) behind him
"Wanna test my ministry", he says. "there’s the evidence. That I am an Apostle"
- capital A. Establishing churches and THE church. Writing scripture. Whose words/writings are definitive- in fact, disobeying them is tantamount to disobeying God (Gal 1:8,9, 1 Cor 1:37)
This bit is like the sermon I preached on apostleship in our series on Gifts of the Spirit (all available on one disk MP3)
So- there are no more Apostles like that. Capital A- as there is no more scripture to be written
But the ministry of apostle (or apostles with a small a) still exists
- those ’sent’
- establishing churches. Regional ministry and authority
And what of miracles? Well- those still happen, too, as they never only exclusively happened at the hands of apostles
- Philip and Barnabas did them as well (though it did mark out their status)
- And Jesus gave the ministry to 72… then said ’he who believes in me will do greater…’ and then passed the whole thing on to everyone in Mt 28:19
But do just note and retain that these things, big time, do seem to mark out special times and ministries… even though they are there in the general flow of church life (Jas + oil) and church history