2nd Corinthians – Wayne Barber/Part 2
By: Dr. Wayne Barber
|By: Dr. Wayne Barber; ©2006|
|Well, turn with me to 2 Corinthians and we’re going to look a little deeper into that little fact of “God is good, all the time.” All the time! We’re going to see His goodness as we talk about the “God of All Comfort,” and this is part 1.|
2 Corinthians 1:1
The God of All Comfort – Part 1
Well, turn with me to 2 Corinthians and we’re going to look a little deeper into that little fact of “God is good, all the time.” All the time! We’re going to see His goodness as we talk about the “God of All Comfort,” and this is part 1. You’ll understand when we get into it because the word “comfort” is not even mentioned until verse 3, but we have so much to see about the character of God.
I want you to get into this with me as we think of the apostle Paul and what he’s doing here. If you’ve read through the book, hopefully you’re seeing what I’m trying to tell you: only Christ, living in a person, can cause that person to believe the best in the people who have done him wrong. Only Christ, living in you and living in others that love Him, only He can make us see the best in the lives of people who have treated us wrongly. That’s what God’s love does. In fact, in our class on Wednesday nights we’ve been talking about that. We’re talking about loving the unlovable and what God’s love is and what it isn’t. And one of the things we’re discovering is that God’s love in a believer causes him or her to always give his brother the benefit of the doubt. That is exactly what Paul is doing in 2 Corinthians. He’s obviously been comforted by God, God is the only one Who can comfort us. And now He chooses to give the Corinthian believers the benefit of the doubt.
By the way, he has little to go on because of the way they’ve treated him. He’s had a bad experience with the church of Corinth. But he’s led by the Lord to love them and to comfort them in this fourth epistle that he’s written to them.
The word “comfort” in God’s Word, particularly in 2 Corinthians, is found 19 times. So you begin to see a little bit of what the epistle is all about. But it’s used 10 times in verses 3-11 of chapter 1. It’s a powerful theme in this epistle. The word for comfort is a good word to know. It’s the word here translated to this particular epistle parakaleo. Para means “alongside;” kaleo means “to call, to call alongside somebody. To comfort and to encourage that individual. It’s the word used to describe the Holy Spirit who is the divine Comforter that Jesus sent to live in the lives and hearts of believers.
Paul, again, had had a very difficult experience with the believers of Corinth. In fact, his third letter, which we went over last week—which has been lost, we don’t have it—was one of those letters evidently that just scalded every single one of them. And it led them to deal with a particular individual that had caused him great strife. And he believed in those Corinthian believers that they would respond correctly. He’d had a tough time with them but he even tells Titus who we believe took the letter to them, he tells him, “I believe they’re going to respond correctly this time.” The letter that we’re studying, called 2 Corinthians is technically his fourth letter that he has written to the church there in Corinth.
I’ll have to tell you this. I love teaching and I love preaching, but I tell you, when I make a mistake I’ll let you know. Last week in my message I said Paul couldn’t wait to find out the message that Titus had for him about how the Corinthian church had responded and I said he was in Macedonia, couldn’t find him and he went to Troas to meet him. I apologize; it was the exact opposite. He went to Troas to find him and then he went on to Macedonia. Finally he caught up with him before then because he just couldn’t wait to hear how the Corinthian church had handled that very difficult letter that he had written to them. I was exactly backwards.
Paul had chosen, even before sending that letter, to hope the best in the Corinthian believer. I tell you, that’s the love of God. You won’t find that anywhere else. You can’t come up with that kind of love. God does that in our hearts. He puts such a love in us that never gives up on anybody; it never quits believing in the Christ that lives within other believers. What a powerful word that is to us in the 21st century as we learn to love one another in Christ even when we’re treated wrongly.
In 2 Corinthians, instead of beginning this letter chastening the people, which basically his other three letters had done, he begins by comforting them. He’s made a choice. So today we’re going to begin to see how he comforts them. We’re going to be looking at the God of all comfort, but today we’re really going to be looking at the character of the one who does the comforting. The comforting part we’ll hit in verse 3.
The pleasure of God to use His people
Three things I want you to see to hopefully encourage your heart. First of all, as we look at God and Who He is, God is good when? All the time. Now let’s just look at His goodness. Let’s just look at see how He’s so good to us. Not only does He comfort us, but some other things we need to know. First of all, the pleasure of God to use His people.
It’s incredible, God could speak and get it done, but God chooses to use His people and involve them in what He’s doing. In 2 Corinthians 1:1, it says, “Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother.” It’s such an awesome thing to know that God had a purpose for them and has a purpose for us. He has a plan for any of us long before we ever knew Him and mostly before we were ever born. “Paul,” now listen to the words, “an apostle.” God had set Paul apart in his mother’s womb before Paul had ever even experienced birth. Galatians 1:15 says, Paul speaking, “But when God, who had set me apart even from my mother’s womb.”
Little did Paul know he would be born a Jew. He had no choice in that, that’s the way he was born into this world. Little did he know he would be gifted with such an intellectual mind that he could argue with the Greek philosophers there on Mars Hill. Little did he know that he would have the schooling of Gamaliel, which would teach him the law like nobody else in the whole New Testament. Little did he know that God orchestrated his life from the time long before he was ever born. Can you imagine the godhead in heaven, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit? You know, “We need a man, we need a preacher to the Gentiles, we need a preacher of grace; but this man has got to be a Jewish man, because unless he’s a Jew in a strict family, circumcised the eighth day, then he won’t appreciate all the covenants of the promises. We need a man that’s of high intellect, we need a man taught by Gamaliel, we need a man that knows the law better than anybody else because then he, above everybody, can appreciate the message of God’s grace. We need a man that would end up penning three-fourths of the New Testament.’ Paul had no idea about that. “Paul, an apostle.”
You know, I wish for all of us that we could understand the plan that God has for our lives. Have you discovered it yet? By walking in faith God leads you right into it. Before we were ever born, God has a purpose and a plan for each one of our lives. He’s no respecter of persons. God has a purpose for each one of us. What a difference that would make if believers were still looking for what they already have in Christ Jesus. They’re always trying to get into a room that they’re already in, if they would just bow before Him, they would begin to discover the purpose and the plan that God has for their lives.
“Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother.” Now it becomes very apparent here that Timothy has returned. Paul had sent him to Corinth; we know he’s back with Paul because he’s mentioned there. It’s fitting that Paul includes the name of Timothy because Timothy was there when the church of Corinth was first begun. According to Acts 18, Silas had come with Timothy down to see Paul, Paul had been making tents, but when they got there he pushed the tent-making aside and they focused in on preaching the gospel, and as a result of that the church of Corinth was born. Paul so loved Timothy. He calls him “our brother.” But in the Greek it’s “Timothy the brother.” The definite article is used there, and what a powerful change that makes, what a compliment. What Paul is saying is not only is he my brother and our brother, but he’s the brother. He’s the example of what a true brother in the Lord Jesus Christ really is. And Paul so loves him. He says in Romans 16:21, “my fellow worker.” He calls him “my beloved and faithful child in the Lord” in 1 Corinthians 4:17. He calls him “my true child in the faith” in 1 Timothy 1:2. And he calls him very tenderly “my son” in 1 Timothy 1:18. He calls him “my beloved son” in 2 Timothy 1:2. He calls him “God’s fellow worker in 1 Thessalonians 3:2. So there’s a real connection between Paul and Timothy.
But even though Timothy’s name is mentioned, Paul is the one doing the writing in this epistle. How do you know that? Because he uses that first person plural “we, we, we,” all the way down to verse 15 and then in verse 15 he changes it to first person singular and carries that through the book. And he says in verse 15, “And in this confidence I intended at first to come to you.” He puts it in that first person singular, and then in chapter 10:13 he says, “For this reason I am writing these things.”
“Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus.” Now, I want you to see what he’s saying here when he says, “Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus.” That’s significant for us to understand in a couple of ways. First of all, he’s holding up his badge of authority given to him by God. Let me help you understand that. The other day I was coming back from a luncheon and I was trying to get to a 2:00 appointment and I got held up. There had been some kind of wreck, I don’t know what kind because I couldn’t see beyond where they’d let you go. They had the street blocked off, they had a fire truck, they had an ambulance, they had two police cars, and this lady policewoman had stopped traffic and would not allow us to go any further. Now I had a 2:00 appointment, it’s about five minutes to two, I’m not that far from the church, but now this is rather a dilemma. Now, here’s this lady and she had the authority to stop traffic. Why? Because she had the badge. And that badge was given to her by someone who had the power to give her that authority. She had the authority she needed to deal with the situation.
Now the apostle Paul, when he pulls out his badge, is usually doing something that’s interesting. In some of his epistles, Philippians for instance, he doesn’t do that. He says, “Paul, a bond servant.” He doesn’t have doctrinal problems he’s trying to correct. He doesn’t need to pull his badge. But it signals the authority that God has given to him in Christ, the power of all is in God, but He’s allowed him to be an apostle in the New Testament. Now you say, why would he pull out his badge? What is he doing here? Well, to discipline, to correct, to protect, to chasten, but just like the police woman, he had to pull his badge out to deal properly with the situation. You see, his apostleship, if you haven’t studied 1 or 2 Corinthians, his apostleship was under hostage by many people that didn’t like Paul. They questioned his authority, they questioned his apostleship. Those in the church that wanted to live like they wanted to live couldn’t stand it when Paul would stand before them and say, “thus says the Lord” to have the authority to determine the doctrine in the church. In fact, you’re going to see him defend this in chapter 10 all the way through chapter 13 of our study. He takes four chapters to defend his apostleship. Why? Because it’s under attack.
So in that first verse when he says, “Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus,” look out, strap your seatbelts on, he’s pulling out his badge of authority. Now make sure you understand there are no apostles today like the apostles in Paul’s day. We have the Word of God and these apostles were those who helped give it to us. In fact, Ephesians 2:20 tells us that our faith is built upon the apostles and the prophets. We don’t have those kinds of apostles today. There are many people saying “I’m now an apostle in the same sense Paul was.” That is ridiculous. God has spoken in His Word and that’s it. And He used the apostles and prophets to give us that foundation. We don’t need to go back and rebuild the foundation.
Now in today’s time, we don’t have apostles like that, but when the Word of God is preached along with it comes His authority. Whereas back then Paul was one of the ones writing and penning the word that we have today. But here’s what I want you to see: “Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus.” It was such a pleasure for God to use Paul and Timothy as His vessel to the Gentile churches. How do you know that? How do you know it was God’s pleasure? Thank you for asking. “Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus,” but look at this, “by the will of God.” I’ve been waiting a long time to get back into the New Testament because I love the power and strength of these words.
Let me explain to you the word “will.” There are two words that are translated “will,” but this particular word is thelema. It’s not His demand, it’s not talking about His demand; He doesn’t demand that Paul become an apostle, that’s not the emphasis of the word. But it’s the word describing an expression of pleasure. It’s that which brings joy to God. Wow. God took great pleasure. It brought God great joy to give Paul the authority of being an apostle in the New Testament church. I love that thought.
Isn’t it interesting that the very thing that displeased the Corinthian believers brought great joy and pleasure to God in doing. That’s sometimes the way it is. But, you see, God loves to draw us in to what He’s doing. He loves to use His people. So we see the pleasure of God to use His people. I had lunch today with a couple. They came out of another religion and they’ve been saved for so many years now, and they were saying, “Wayne,” and the lady was particularly weeping, and she said, “Wayne, isn’t it awesome that God that made the world and that sent His Son would let me be used in His kingdom?” And I was thinking of the excitement and the enthusiasm in her voice. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen Christians in different places, I’m not talking about you, but seen believers come to that place and say, “Oh, God, do You mean You take pleasure in using me in Your kingdom’s work?” That’s Who He is. It just delights Him when He can find a willing vessel through which He can do His work. God uses His people. God uses His people. He takes great pleasure in doing so.
Let me ask you a question: are you being used of God today? Are you allowing God to do through you what He wants to do? That’s the bottom line. Paul has decided to believe the best in the Corinthians. He’s decided to trust the Christ that lives in them, but listen, he has no evidence to go on other than the report by Titus that they’re doing any better than when he wrote that epistle to them. He just chooses to believe that. And I’m just asking you a question: do you wake up in the morning and it overwhelms you that God wants to use you? Does it do something? Does it make you feel like that God loves me so much that in His goodness and in His character He really wants me to be useable in what He’s doing? That’s the goodness of God.
The purpose of God to locate His people
But secondly, not only does He use His people and take pleasure in using His people, but the purpose of God to locate His people. Let me explain that. No one is where they are by accident. Do you understand that? How many understand what I’m just telling you? We’re here by divine appointment and it’s the purpose and pleasure of God to put us where He puts us. God plants His people where He wants them so they can affect the world that is around them.
“Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, to the church of God which is at Corinth with all the saints who are throughout Achaia.” Now, first of all, let’s take that last phrase: “with all the saints who are throughout Achaia.” Remember that Achaia was mostly the southern part of Greece. It did involve some of that central part. These letters that were written by Paul were read by all the believers in a particular area, not just at the Corinthian church. They would pass that letter around and everybody that was a believer would get a chance to hear it and to read it. The word “saints,” the “saints that are in Achaia,” the word “saint” refers to a believer. Now I know that there are religions who say that man makes saints, etc. No, sir! A saint is a believer, and the word means someone who has been set apart unto God to be useable to God. And He says, “I put them wherever I want to put them.” They’re strategically located all over Greece, because Achaia was not a town or a city; it was an area of all southern and part of central Greece.
So again, “Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, to the church of God which is at Corinth,” now hang onto this. “The church of God which was at Corinth” was not the only place where God had His people, as we already have seen in that verse. But in Romans 16:1, he calls about the church which is at Cenchrea and then in Acts 8:1 he talks about the church which is in Jerusalem. In Acts 13:1, the church which is at Antioch. So the church is wherever you find God’s people, and that’s what I want you to get in your mind. You see, we’re not the church; we’re just a piece of it. Wherever you find God’s believers, He takes great pleasure in using them, but He takes a great purpose in locating them and placing them in areas where they can influence the people around them.
In this word, all these words are pregnant with meaning to the Corinthian church. Don’t ever for one second read a verse and think it’s trite. He used it over here, he’s using it here. It’s just a simple greeting. No sir, no sir. The word for church is the word ekklesia. The word ek, which means “out from among something.” If I had a pen in my pocket and I took it out, that would be ek. If I had a pen on the outside attached to my pocket, next to it, but not in it, it would be apo. It’s a different preposition. Ek means out of something: you were in it, you were involved in it, you were part of it, it misses you now that you’ve been taken out of it. And then there’s the word koleo, which means “the called out ones.” It is never used of a pagan religion no matter where you find it. It’s only used of God’s people and has tremendous meaning to all of us. The term is especially reserved for believers who make up the body of Christ. It applies not only to change of life, but it applies to a change of lifestyle of the one who claims to be a believer. It doesn’t mean that we’re not to be in the world, it simply means that we’re not to be of the world. The world is not to be in us.
You say why am I making a big deal out of this? Because I’ve studied 1 Corinthians. What a need they have of hearing this, because the church in Corinth had allowed Corinth to get inside the church and when he calls them the church that is at Corinth, he reminds them you came out from among those kinds of lifestyles. Yes, I want you in it, but I don’t want you of it. You’re the called out ones. First Corinthians tells us the whole story as we looked at last time. By using the word church, which is Christ’s body, we need to understand the church is wherever you find it; it doesn’t matter where it is. It only has one head, and that is Christ Himself.
Paul, in speaking of the order and the form of how the husband and wife deal with one another, he says in Ephesians 5:23, “for the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church.” And he qualifies to being the head for he says, “He himself being the Savior of the body.” It’s speaking of Christ in Colossians 1:18, Paul says, “He is also head of the body, the church.” You say what’s the relation here? Oh, listen, it would be so fitting for Paul to say this to the Corinthians because you know what? The Corinthians didn’t look at Christ being the head of the church. Some were of Paul, some were of Apollos, some were of Cephas, which is the Aramaic name for Simon Peter; they were of men as if men were the head of the church. Oh, how in the world we’re ever going to pop this balloon that the preacher is not the head of the church; the elders are not the head of the church. The head of the church, which is the body of Christ, is Christ Himself.
So the church is located wherever God has chosen to put it. I don’t know what neighborhood you live in, but you’re the church in that neighborhood. You’re light because you’re in Christ; and you’re salt; and God has put you wherever he has put you. You say you tried to buy a house up here but it fell through and we ended up moving over here and God says, “Well, look here.” And God put you right where He wanted you to be. And if you’re sent, then you’re put, and you’ve got a purpose in being there: to influence the world that is around you, to allow Jesus to be Jesus in you. And no matter where you’re found and no matter where you’re put, Christ is your head because He’s the only head of the church. No matter where it’s found. The church is to be in the world but not of the world. A boat in the water is by design, but water in the boat is disaster.
I was bass fishing with a friend of mine who is a professional, but the one thing about professionals, you know, they say the more you do something the less careful you become and the most injuries happen to people because they’ve gotten so used to what they’re doing they forget to pay attention to the basics. And I’m standing on the back deck, it’s a bass deck. And I don’t know if you know a bass boat has the lower part and then it has a big deck you stand on, that’s where you fish from. Now when water gets up there, it’s serious. If it’s down in the other part, that’s okay, but if it’s up there it tells you how much water is in that boat. He had forgotten to put the plug in the boat. And I’m standing there, we’re fishing at night so you don’t recognize it right off, and I kept noticing I was squishing every time I’d take a step. And we were fishing along and I said, “Kenny, I’m in water.” He said, “What!” Because you see, water in the boat is disaster. The boat in water is by design.
We’re not to be of the world. Our head is the Lord Jesus Christ. He takes pleasure in using us to draw us into His work. He wants us to be the influences to the people that are around us. That’s why He strategically has a purpose in locating us here and here and here. How many times in my life I’ve wanted to move someplace else without ever influencing the place where I’ve been. The key is, are we blooming where we’re planted? Do people see us as the church of the Lord Jesus Christ and are they being influenced by God’s locating us where He has put us. Are you influencing the world around you here in Albuquerque? Are you living under the headship of Christ? Are you realizing that God is wanting to use you in a powerful way? Have you asked yourself “how did I get here? Was it accident or was it divine providence of God that He put me where I am?”
So the pleasure of God is to use His people, but the purpose of God is to locate His people. The church of God, which is at Corinth. Oh, by the way, all the saints which aren’t in Corinth but in Achaia, I have a word for you. Oh, you mean the church can be in different places? Absolutely.
The passion of God to enable his people
Thirdly, the passion of God to enable His people. This is the goodness of God; this is Who we serve. He doesn’t come into our lives to turn it over to us. He enables us. Paul says in verse 2, “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” Grace and peace are two of the most important words you can find in the spiritual vocabulary. I wish sometimes we could just stop and go down the rows and say what do you believe grace means? What do you believe grace means? And it would be real interesting what people think grace is. In understanding the word grace we must ask, what part of grace is Paul talking about? Because I want you to understand something: grace is a huge subject. Grace is a house in which all the blessings of God live in, Christ being its source. He is the house and everything that we need for life and godliness is found in this one word, grace. The believers in Corinth had already received “saving grace.” He couldn’t be talking about that. He says in 1 Corinthians 1:4, “I thank my God always concerning you for the grace of God which was given you in Christ Jesus.” So he’s not talking to them about saving grace.
But grace is not only that which saves you, grace, Christ, is that which transforms your life. Once Christ, who is the source of grace comes to live in us at salvation, He then wants to live His life through us, He wants to replace us. That’s living grace, that’s what we’ve been talking about for years. He wants to live His life, daily transforming us from glory to glory to glory, and we’ll see this in 2 Corinthians. Paul is wishing for them to experience living grace. He wouldn’t tell believers “grace to you.” They’ve already received it. He’s talking about living grace.
Galatians 2:20, which has been the key verse and is becoming more and more life’s verse, “I have been crucified with Christ and it’s no longer I who live but Christ lives in me and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself up for me.” And then Paul says the most classic words in verse 21 of that chapter, “I do not nullify the grace of God.” He says, “If salvation came through the law, then Christ died needlessly.” If righteousness comes from the law, Christ died needlessly. In verse 21 he says “I do not nullify the grace of God.”
See, Paul is saying to these believers, “You need the grace of God to go on. Yes, you need it for salvation, but Christ is the essence of the grace of God. And by your learning to walk by faith, you release Him in your life and He replaces you.” That’s what living grace is. That’s how He uses you where you’re located. That’s how you can begin to discover the goodness and the pleasure of God to be involved in your life. Paul says, “I do not set aside,” which the word really means, “I do not frustrate Christ living in and through me. This is what grace is all about.” Listen, this is what grace is all about.
“Grace to you and peace.” Now Paul knows from his own personal experience nothing satisfies the believer more than the living grace of God. Nothing. We sang about it, “He’s more than enough for all of me.” So he says, “Grace to you and peace.” Have you noticed in the Bible that peace always comes after grace, never before it? You see, until you’ve experienced the grace of God, there’s not going to be any peace. And that’s how salvation occurs: He transforms you, He deals with your sin and you become a brand new believer and then you have peace. Well, it’s the same thing once you become a believer. As you walk by faith in him, that peace saturates your life. The Corinthians will have no peace until they come back to the living grace of God. Until they come back to living by faith, letting Jesus be Jesus in them.
Now, I want to tell you what: if you’ve not studied 1 Corinthians you won’t understand the power of this statement because in 1 Corinthians they know firsthand how not to receive this grace. They know how to set it aside, they know how to frustrate it, and they also know the consequences that come when you do that. That’s why Paul continuously starts his letters that way: Grace to you. Grace to you, and peace. That only flows in the life of a person who’s living and walking in the living grace of God.
So in the first two verses we see the goodness of God, Who, as we’ll continue to see, is the God of all comfort as we go all the way down through verse 11 in the weeks to follow. He is so good to use His people. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve been overwhelmed just by the fact that God would even choose to use me. My wife spoke at a ladies’ thing last week and she came back and she sensed that God had used her and it just overwhelmed her. She was not the same all day long. She just basked in that all day long. “God actually used me!” That’s the goodness of God, folks.
I tell you the only people not enjoying what I’m saying tonight are the people who are sitting there thinking, “I’m not about to let God use me.” You see, that’s the only thing that can frustrate it. That’s the only thing that can set it aside: an attitude that says I’m not going to trust Him. The purpose of God: maybe you’re here and you don’t know why you’re here and God is beginning to say to you, “It’s not economically, and it’s not other ways. It’s spiritually: I have put you here for a purpose. I have located you where you are and don’t move until I relocate you where I want you to be.” Because we’re here to influence the people who are around us, and in the goodness of God to enable His people. He doesn’t assign something to us He doesn’t enable. That’s the living grace that God has for us.
So as we wind down in this message, let me just ask you some questions. Now don’t answer. I used to do conference work and say, “Let me ask you a question.” And somebody would answer. I’d say, “No, don’t do that.” Some of these get a little bit personal. These are just for you. What is God’s plan in your life? What is His plan in your life? It’s only realized as you walk by faith, not frustrating the grace of God. And let me ask you this question: are you allowing God to influence the people that are around you, whether it’s your neighborhood, whether it’s at work, wherever it is? Are you living in the enabling power of God? Are you living in that enabling power, conscious of it? Paul said in Philippians, “I want to experience Him.” Are you experiencing Him; are you experiencing that enabling power in your life?
Corinth was a tough deal. Paul had determined in his mind, he even said this later on, “I have determined that I’m not going to write this letter for your pain. I’m writing this to comfort you.” He’s made a choice: he’s chosen to believe in the Christ in the believers in Corinth, regardless of how they have treated him and how they have refused over the past. He’s excited about this one act of obedience they have paid to him, as they respond to that third letter. But they have a choice to make just like we have a choice to make. Are we going to bemoan the place where God has put us? Or are we going to frustrate the grace of God? Or are we going to say, “Jesus be Jesus in me; no longer me but thee. Resurrection power, fill me this hour, Jesus, be Jesus in me.” And start letting Him use us as vessels to touch a city that is desperate to know what we’re hearing tonight. What are we going to do?
You know, so many people think of missions as over the seas. Well, that’s part of it. It’s also across the street. We’ve got an opportunity here people if we could understand a church of God in our city, and we could begin to get in touch with the fact that God takes pleasure to use us. And maybe that revival we’ve been praying for could come as we start walking by faith and getting a part of the plan God has for our life.
Most of you know that I worked with Dr. Spiros Zodhiates for ten years. I was his co-host on a program called “New Testament Light.” It was radio and television. And as I look back on it, I was thinking of this when I studied, how God has used that man. Spiros is an interesting man. Born in Cyprus, didn’t speak English until he was 15 years old. And when he was about 9 or 10 years old his brother, older brother, got saved. He was out with somebody that was a believer that was planted in Greece, on Cyprus island, shared the message of Christ with him. Somebody took pleasure in the fact that God takes pleasure in using them. And they were faithful, they walked by faith. And God enabled them: his brother came to know Christ. His brother came home that night and told his parents and they kicked him out of the house; made him pack his clothes and leave because they were Greek Orthodox, very strong, very stringent. They said, “You get out of here, you’re not welcome in this house anymore.”
The next morning the mama went out to get the milk because that was back in the days they would bring the milk, and some of you remember that in our country. And she went to get the milk and when she went to get the milk, the older brother had been on his knees all night long praying for his family. It so touched his mama that she said, “Alright, if you have that kind of commitment, come in and share with us what you have heard.” And Spiros and his mother and father came to know Christ. And God located him several places, but then God relocated him to America. And not only in America, but God moved him to Chattanooga, TN. He’s written over 400 books. For ten years, seven hours a week I did my study with him. He never looked at an English text; it was always in the Greek text. That’s how I know any Greek that I have. But God used this man.
You see, folks, who’s sitting in here tonight? I wonder if the next Billy Graham is sitting out there and God is simply trying to say to you, “Do you know that I put you here for a purpose? Do you know that I take great pleasure in using you and stop trying to figure out what I’m doing? Just let me do it. And do you understand that I live in you to enable you to be everything that I’ve planned for you to be? Do you understand that?”
He says this to a group of Christians that have really given him a hard time. And he begins to focus on the God who is behind all the comfort we’re going to be looking at in the next several weeks. Is God using you? Is this world different because you’re here? Are we allowing Jesus to be Jesus in us? And are we allowing Him to help us to understand the plan He has for our life?
What is God saying to you today, this very hour? If you’re not a believer, He wants to come live in you and show you that He has a purpose for you, too. It’s incredible. God is good, all the time. That’s who we serve.