Monday, February 8, 2010

Sermon: Open-Hearted Preaching (Paul and Preaching in Second Corinthians)

Introduction: Paul opened his heart wide (6:11) to the Corinthians in the second epistle, sharing his personal motives for preaching, and contrasting them with the motives of his opponents. Here are some key contrasts:

1) Preach the word vs peddle the word.
The hallmark of Paul's ministry was sincerity and simplicity (1:12).
Paul's opponents were marked by duplicity and ulterior motives, especially in "peddling the word", preaching for money (2:17; 4:2).
Paul even refused to take support from the Corinthians to highlight how different his ministry was from his opponents (11:7-13).
We must be care not to preach for money, to alter the message so we can keep a job.

2) Commended by God vs commended by men.
Paul's opponents sought commended by people, even if it meant commending each other! (10:12).
Paul's letter of commendation was the Corinthians themselves (3:1).
Paul was motivated by God, not by recognition from people (5:9-14a; 10:18).
His goal was for his actions to speak for themselves (6:4-10).
We must guard against flattery and celebrity and remember it is the Lord we want to please, not people.

3) Skilled in substance vs skilled in style.
Paul's opponents ridiculed his lack of style, accusing him of writing great letters but being a whimp in person (10:10).
Perhaps Paul was a victim of his own merciful actions in not punishing the rebellious during the second, "painful" visit.
But Paul's skill was in substance, the knowledge of the word (11:5-6).
It is crucial for preachers (and those who listen) to focus on substance rather than style.

4) "Weakness Trip" vs "Power Trip"
Paul's opponents were on a power trip, driven by their desire to dominate others (11:19-21).
Paul boasted in his weakness, because that highlighted the role of God in his ministry (11:30; 12:10; 12:13-16; 13:8-9).
And in this sense Paul modeled himself after Christ, who was crucified in weakness (13:4).
Preachers must make it clear that their service is by the power of God, not their own ability.

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