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"Trusting God Together"
2 Corinthians 1:8-11

Wednesday AM Bible Study
May 14, 2008

In the last passage (vv. 3-7), Paul shared with his beloved brothers and sisters in Corinth his conviction that the sufferings he had undergone—and the comfort he received from God in them—were not just for himself. They were also meant for their benefit and blessing as well.

Now, in this morning's passage, Paul carries that idea further. He shows that the result of the sharing of both the suffering and the comfort from Christ is that he and his brothers and sisters would grow to trust and praise God together.

I. PAUL'S BURDEN (v. 8).

A. Paul was careful to share the story of his trials with his brethren. Note that he didn't want them to be ignorant of such things. He didn't keep things to himself—as so many today seem to do. He didn't see it as a "virtue" to suffer in quiet solitude. Because of the truths he articulated in verses 3-7, he felt the duty to make sure that his trials were known by his brethren. He wasn't afraid to be vulnerable and share even his times of weakness; because these highlighted the strength of Christ at work in him (2 Corinthians 4:7ff; 12:9ff).

B. The exact nature of this "trouble" (singular; literally "pressure") isn't told to us. It may have been related to the events of Acts 19:21-41; although it isn't specifically said that Paul suffered physically in them. It may be that what burdened him was the very real threat of violence to his person; and 1 Corinthians 15:32 may be a key to understanding this trial. Along with the trying circumstances, it may also be that he suffered the additional burden of his concern for the Corinthians (2:12-13). This trial was apparently so severe, that Paul (and apparently even some of his co-workers) "despaired" above and beyond their own ability—and "even of life".

II. PAUL'S TRUST (vv. 9-10).

A. Paul and his co-workers had the "sentence" (literally, the "answer") of death in themselves. They had yielded themselves to God to the point of considering themselves as good as dead in the flesh. But this was not in an attitude of apathy. It was an attitude of acceptance of the very real possibility of death, so that they could cease trusting in themselves and place all their trust instead on the One who raises the dead. A very vivid example of Paul's attitude in this respect may be found in Philippians 1:19-26—words he wrote while in prison, awaiting possible execution.

B. Having been weaned of every fleshly trust, and being thrown completely in trust upon the God who raises the dead, Paul found freedom. He knew that this mighty God had delivered him in the past, is delivering him in the present, and will deliver him in the future. In a greater sense, we have here a picture of past "salvation" (justification), present "salvation" (sanctification), and future "salvation" (glorification). Anything that God gives us that causes us to take our trust off of ourselves, and place it exclusively on Him, is a great gift!

III. PAUL'S HELP (v. 11).

A. Paul did not view himself as being alone in this trust. He saw his own deep need for his brothers and sisters—who were to "join in helping" him in this hope through their prayers. Thus, he wasn't hesitant to share his burden with them—or the stories of God's rescue.

B. The result that Paul looked to was that, along with his brothers and sisters in Christ, he and his co-workers could give thanks to God for the "gift" (which could be the actual rescue itself, or it could be the endurance in the midst of the trial) through many "faces" turned upward in praise to God (see also 2 Corinthians 9:12-14).

* * * * * * * * * *

We live in a day and age that puts far too high a value on 'rugged individualism'—an attitude that, sadly, is advanced in our day by a culture that facilitates isolation. We were not meant by God, however, to go-it on our own. We are made by Christ into a "body"; and we need the other members of that body in order to live the life God would have us live in Christ.

May God enable us, increasingly, to function as the body is truly designed to function; so that we, "speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ— from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love" (Ephesians 4:15-16).

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