My family is being blessed as we follow this method of Bible study: http://www.stevehusting.com/doubtbusters/2013/10/19/whats-a-good-way-to-study-the-bible/
My family is going through the book of 2 Corinthians together, chapter by chapter, and sharing our results on Monday evenings at the dinner table. What follows are the results of my own meditations in the first few chapters of this book. There’s no need to restrict the blessings to my dinner table! After you read the following, try the Chapter Summary method of studying and meditating on the Bible on your own.
Chap. 1 Suffering to learn
1-10 We suffer to learn of God and help others who suffer
11-16 Acknowledging the gift
17-24 Paul acted by pure motives in the power of God
1:4 He comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any kind of affliction, through the comfort we ourselves receive from God.
Verses like this help me understand why I suffer. Many people without God suffer for no purpose. But God redeems our lives, including our suffering, and turns it to good. (Jesus, who was perfect, suffered, so suffering isn’t an automatic sign that you did wrong.) So when others suffer as we did, we could identify with them and comfort them. God comforts those who seek His perspective of life and suffering. When we see God’s dealings with suffering believers in the Bible stories, then we see our sufferings in a new light, and that higher perspective helps us endure.
Suffering always feels bad. Paradoxically, how we think about it and what we do with it (such as sharing how God helped us through it) can make us feel good.
Chap. 2 Don’t give Satan the advantage
1-4 It grieved Paul to write his previous letter
5-11 Confirm your love to the one who sinned and repented
12-17 God makes them triumph
2:11 Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices.
We love and forgive, lest Satan should get the advantage. What is his work? To drown the person in despair of ever receiving any help from God or man. “Nobody likes me. I’m no good. I can never be forgiven.” Shutting the a door of hopelessness, Satan then manipulates them to sin more, even sometimes to rage against God for being unjust and unfair.
We are Christ’s body on earth. We are His hands and mouths to communicate His forgiveness through the gospel. We must point out faults, and this could despair them, but then we also point out the way of release and deliverance from its slavery. Paul’s last part in this chapter is of triumph, and we rebuke to point them away from Satan’s lies to triumph in Christ.
Chap. 3 The Spirit’s ministry is more glorious
1-6 Paul defends himself
7-16 The Holy Spirit’s work is greater than the Law’s work
17-18 The end result is transformation and freedom
We already know how to live life based on do this and do that, on rules and laws governing us. But to live life as a child of God requires a different kind of instructor, the Holy Spirit. Moral and ethical laws will get us situated in the local community, but the Spirit wants to prepare us for kingdom living.
Moses’ face shone with glory after he met with God. That doesn’t happen by following rules and being nice people. God’s end for us is everlasting glory, people who will dwell with Him forever. His servants will serve Him and they dwell in His house. They will shine in glory as the stars forever, not through the law but by the Spirit. Am I being trained, or just following rules?
Chap. 4 They do not lose heart
1-6 They do not lose heart because God gave them the ministry and showed mercy
7-12 They do not lose heart because Christ is alive in them during hard times
13-18 They do not lose heart because the glory to come will be greater than the present hardships
4:1 Therefore seeing we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we faint not
I’ve had plenty of blah times when I don’t feel like doing anything, even to forbear prayer and meditation. I’m not sure those times qualify as “lose heart,” though, because they don’t last long.
So why didn’t Paul lose heart as he faced much greater trials than I ever had? First, people will lose heart if they are relying on the people around them for fueling their lives. Paul did not do that. God was his basis for continuing, not a people’s fickle goodwill. God gave Paul the ministry and in mercy supported it.
SEcond, in hard times, Paul found himself bouyed up by Christ’s unmistakable presence living within his earthen vessel. And Paul had enough experiences with God following through with His word to be utterly convinced of the promises of glory to follow. That glory will outweigh all the suffering he was enduring.
Paul did not take these things for granted. He noticed them and pondered them with the word of God and became convinced of their validity. Through our chapter summaries and personal meditations, we become aware of how God works in us and can develop the same persuasion of God working as Paul did – and not lose heart.
Chap. 5 The ministry of the Spirit in Paul
1-8 Confident of a resurrection body
9-11 Confident of a judgment for believers
10-15 Confident of the love of God
16-21 Confident of his purpose
In chapter 3, Paul told us that the ministry of the Spirit is better than the letter of the law. In this chapter and the last, we see how the Spirit has done in Paul did more than his decades without the Spirit, hen he was studying the law.
First, Paul had an assurance of the resurrection. The Spirit had convinced him in ways the eyes and natural thinking cannot conclude. How do you believe in the resurrection when you are more acquainted with the finality of death all around you? Through the ministry of the Spirit, we have another source of knowledge.
Second, Paul was convinced of the judgment seat of Christ and that he needed to be ready for it. Following rules, though, can make one deceptively self-righteous. Then we evaluate ourselves with the wrong criteria. The Spirit perfects us so that we will be ready in humility.
Third, Paul was moved to do all things for the love of God. But with laws, we are firmly focused on ourselves and our actions and generally being busy.
The ministry of the Spirit takes us in whole new directions, to a new creation, than the mere letters of the law can take us. Can you create a new you in these ways by just being a nice person and going to church?