Sunday, May 15, 2016A.M. Service
Strength in Trials
Speaker: Brian Arnold
Passage: 2 Corinthians 12:1-10
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This morning, Pastor Brian Arnold taught the congregation expositionally through 2 Corinthians 12:1-10 and examined the two God glorifying reasons for trials.

  1. To Destroy Our Pride (v.1-8)
  2. To Display God's Power (v.9-10)

It was necessary for Paul to write about a supernatural experience that God provided 14 years earlier, so he could counter the testimonies of false teachers in Corinth.  Key points in this passage include:

  • The very experience Paul had was in the throne room; God's abode --- Paradise!
  • This experience was likely permitted by God to enable Paul to endure the many trials that we to come against him in ministry; some of these afflictions are described by Paul himself in 2 Corinthians 11:23-29.
  • Paul will not boast in anything other than his weakness.  Why?  So that he would refrain from giving any credibility or authority to his message based on personal experience. 
  • There is no authority except the objectivity of how he lived and what he preached.
  • It is the same today, the measurement of any ministry's authenticity is the gospel message and the holiness of its pastors/teachers.
  • In ministry, we must follow Paul's example and lay aside anything that gives us individual glory or significance.
  • Just like Paul, self-esteem is not needed in ministry.  In fact what is needed is humility and the circumstances (trials) to produce it.  Often, we do not want the trials, but they are necessary.
  • In verse 7, we learn that Paul's circumstance/trial was a "thorn in the flesh".  There are many things we know about this "thorn" and many things we do not know.  However, we do know that is was given by God for the purpose of growing Paul's holiness.
  • Just like Paul our trials are given to destroy pride and enable greater dependency on God.  Trials are a grace from God.
  • In verses 9-10, we learn that Christ Himself answered Paul's prayer saying, "My grace is sufficient (adequate) for you, for power is perfected in weakness."
  • In this statement, Paul knows the trial will remain and he also will not have to bear it alone; Christ's power is available to Paul, as it is to us in trials.  
  • Christ provides the spiritual resources to endue.  We have power to bear up under the weight of trial and overcome sin, when we humble ourselves, acknowledging our weakness, and rely on Christ's resources.

In conclusion, verse 10 is very instructive for us:

  • "I am well content with weakness, with...."  This refers to more than mere contentment, but actual joy in knowing what God will accomplish in us and through us in trials.
  • The trials may be very painful, gut-wrenching at times, and no the trials are not joyful in and of themselves.  It is what God is accomplishing in the trials which are the joy for the believer.
  • We recognize that we can thrive in trials by rejecting sin and strengthening faith, while homoring and glorifying Christ.  Turning to Christ in trials is the means by which faith is infused in us.
  • Cautions:  Don't doubt God's character, don't trust ourselves or our own resources, and don't for a second believe you are adequate on your own in a trial.

"We trust God in trials because we know Christ's character and His Word."