I am looking forward to speaking to the supporters of Camp Elim in Colorado September 23-24. Their “Heritage Retreat” gives me the opportunity to preach on one of my favorite passages, 2 Corinthians 12. I will be sharing four messages with them.
One of the many benefits of doing a daily blog is that I get to “think out” what I’m going to preach on. Let’s look at the 2 Corinthians 12 passage again before I share message #1 with you:
We’ve noticed a number of “heaven tourism” books that have sold millions of copies — and found them, in most cases, a challenge to the authority of Scripture about the reality of heaven!
We don’t need tour books — we need the Book — and an authoritative account from an approved Apostle of Christ!
The first message I want to preach from this text can be entitled as —
I. A Biblical View of Boasting (vv. 1-6)
It must be pointed out that there is godly and there is ungodly boasting. Ungodly boasting is found in passages like: James 4:16 “As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil.”; Proverbs 27:1 “Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring.”; and James 3:5 “Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark.” When we boast about our “arrogant schemes” or brag about our plans for tomorrow or use our words in ungodly ways, we are engaged in ungodly boasting.
Godly boasting is spoken of in passages like: Jeremiah 9:24 “but let the one who boasts boast about this: that they have the understanding to know me, that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight,” declares the Lord. And in 2 Thessalonians 1:4 “Therefore, among God’s churches we boast about your perseverance and faith in all the persecutions and trials you are enduring.” And in Philippians 2:16 “as you hold firmly to the word of life. And then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor in vain.” Also in Philippians 3:3 “For it is we who are the circumcision, we who serve God by his Spirit, who boast in Christ Jesus, and who put no confidence in the flesh.” Godly boasting focuses on the joy of knowing the Lord and the pleasure we receive when we see other believers living for Him!
In our text, 2 Corinthians 12, Paul is employing a kind of boasting by which he is defending his apostleship. He is quite reluctant to engage in such boasting as evidenced by the fact that he has kept his experience of heaven to himself for 14 years! We also see that he begins to explain his going to heaven in the 3rd person (“I knew a man . . . he . . .”), but later shifts to 1st person (“Even if I should choose to boast . . .”). Paul uses the term “boast” five times in this text.
We may boast about our grandchildren or our children or our spouses, but our greatest boast must be about the Lord Himself and His goodness to us! (to be continued)