Read - 2 Corinthians 10
Message - Scott Woodburn
We shouldn't be surprised when the church of Christ faces opposition and difficulty. What might surprise us however is that the source of the problem is often not where we think. Imagine for a second a church member called Joe Bloggs. Joe doesn't know Christ but has somehow become an elder. Not only that but Joe is confident, a good speaker and someone who wields undue influence over the church. His fellow elders tiptoe around him and others avoid confrontation because of family connections. Things with Joe tick along nicely for years but then one day a new pastor arrives who preaches the Gospel at every opportunity. This annoys Joe. He doesn't give too much thought to why he is annoyed but he is annoyed nevertheless, indeed he is furious. Joe's church has never been one of those Gospel preaching churches. Joe wants no talk of being saved and Joe will do all in his power to clip the wings of the young upstart preacher.
The story above is entirely fictitious but it is also entirely plausible. We've seen similar before and we will again. We need to get rid of all the Joes don't we? Joe must go! Steady there! Put down your pitchfork and sit at Paul's feet. Corinth had their own fair share of Joes. Paul has addressed them before in this letter and he does so again. They have accused Paul of being the big man when he writes but quiet in person. Even worse they accuse him of being worldly or walking according to the flesh (v2b).
This chapter begins with Paul's assurance to the Corinthians. He speaks to them by way of the meekness and gentleness of Christ (v1) and begs them that when he comes he won't need to speak to them with boldness (v2a). With that said Paul fully expects on having to speak sternly with his critics (v2b). Exciting! Paul is on his way to Corinth and Joe Bloggs is going to get it! What will Paul do? March straight in and grab Joe by the throat? Head to the church carpark and launch a gossip campaign against the Joe Bloggs team? Sorry, no. Put away your popcorn. The battle that Paul will fight will not be fought with weapons of the flesh (v3).
Paul's weapons are from God and have God given power to tear down the devil's strongholds (v4). You see quite often we think that Joe Bloggs is the big problem in our church and we completely overlook that "we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places." (Ephesians 6v12)
With faithful preaching of truth and with much prayer Paul is confident that false arguments and opinions can be defeated (v5a). Paul doesn't want to destroy Joe Bloggs, instead he wants to set Joe free so that every single one of Joe's thoughts would be brought into the obedience of Christ (v5b). Yet one mark of the true church of Christ is church discipline, and Paul states that as the Corinthians display obedience, Paul is ready to punish those who remain disobedient (v6). Ah! Now we get to the good stuff. Now Paul will start throwing punches. Well, no. Church discipline sees a member removed from the fellowship, trusting that the member will repent and finally be restored to the fellowship.
Most churches will have a Joe Bloggs but understand that there will be no victory using gossip, schemes or fighting fire with fire. Instead our fellowships must be prepared to engage in spiritual warfare with the tools that God has placed at our disposal. Let the truth of God's Word resound and let God's people pray and let our eyes constantly be set upon our good captain the Lord Jesus Christ. He will build His church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.
Q16 Did all mankind fall in Adam’s first transgression? The covenant being made with Adam, not only for himself, but for his posterity; all mankind, descending from him by ordinary generation, sinned in him, and fell with him in his first transgression.
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