Today I am back to 2 Corinthians on why Paul was fearless against all odds. Chapter 2 showed a different Paul from the evangelistic goal-focused apostle Paul we may imagine he was. I summarize below my deeper understanding after reading this part of his letter to the Corinth Christians.
Chapter 2: Pauls’ Ministry of the body of Christ -Paul teaches the right priority in ministry, motive and manner in handling the body of Christ.
He clarified that his ministry was not to bring sorrow to himself and/or the body of Christ but joy: through forgiving, comforting, reaffirming God’s love.
He showed his concern for the body of Christ which took precedence over his personal ministry. For example, he wanted to follow through their progress in Christ. So he chose to forego an opportunity to preach gospel at Troas and instead returned to Macedonia to wait for his co-worker Titus whom he expected to bring the latest news about the Corinthian body of Christ.
Paul followed the Holy Spirit and the peace in his heart. When he did not find rest in his heart he decided not to start an evangelical work in a new place alone despite the valuable opportunity offered. He also followed the rule that they worked in a team of two or more (he, Titus and others).
Whilst in the midst of uncertainty with his flocks at Corinth: their spiritual condition and his (and his team’s) relationship with them, he remained calm and confident of the positive outcome and described the work of the evangelists always in triumph in Christ because it is God who initiates the work and causes the victory to manifest.
He has personally experienced the God-initiated work which always gives life and triumph over death and doom.
Paul was confident with the Corinth Christians because he was fearless to preach the word of God with sincerity and authority in Christ. He wanted them well. He had God’s heart for them.
Here is more numbers and food for Christian thoughts:
MONEY and MISSIONS:
Annual Income of All Church Members: $30.5 trillion.
Annual income of Evangelical Christians is approximately $6.72 trillion.
Given to any Christian causes: $545 billion (1.8% of our income). That’s also how much we spend in America on Christmas
Given to Missions: $31 billion, (0.1%). That’s only 5.7% of the money given to Christian causes of any kind. That’s also how much we spend in America on dieting programs.
Money that goes toward the Reached world: $26,970,000,000 (that means 87% of the money given to “Missions” goes to areas with “reached” status or access to the gospel already).
Money that goes toward Unreached Peoples: $310 million (that’s only 1% of what is given to “Missions.”). That’s also how much Americans in 2011 spent on Halloween costumes (for their pets).
The $310 million (going toward Unreached People Group’s) is only .001% of the $30.5 trillion Income of Christians. (for every $100,000 that Christians make, they give $1 to the unreached.)
THINK ABOUT IT:
Evangelical Christians could provide all of the funds needed to plant a church in each of the 6,900 unreached people groups with only 0.03% of their income.
The Church has roughly 3,000 times the financial resources and 9,000 times the manpower needed to finish the Great Commission.
If every evangelical gave 10% of their income to missions we could easily support 2 million new missionaries. (From thetravelingteam.org)
Unreached People Groups:
Total People Groups: 16,750
Total Unreached People Groups: 6,921
Total Population of UPGs: 2.84 billion people
Total Percentage of world: UPG’s make up 40.6% of world population
All People Groups 16,750 6.83 billion
Unreached People Groups 6,921 2.84 billion
% Unreached Peoples 41.3% 41.5 %
10/40 Window Total 8,717 4.50 billion
10/40 Window Unreached 5,874 2.76 billion
10/40 Window % Unreached 67.4% 61.2 %
“Unreached – Least-Reached” is defined as less than 2% evangelical individuals and less than 5% Christian adherents in the people group.
About 3,500 of these Unreached / Least-Reached groups are small, under 10,000 in population, so the task is not as large as it first appears.
Countries with the most Least-Reached People Groups:
India – 2,301
Pakistan – 448
China – 427
Bangladesh – 328
Nepal – 317
(Greater than 2% evangelical Christian but still great numbers of unsaved)
Total Population: 915,000,000
Total People Groups: 3,306
Total Percentage of world: the unevangelized make up 13.1% of world population
(Majority Christian population)
Total Population: 3.1 billion
Total People Groups: 6,532
Total Percentage of world: the reached population makes up 44.3% of world population
The Great Commission
“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations” Matt 28:19
“And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” Matthew 24:14
“He told them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” Luke 10:2
“Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation” Mark 16:15
“Prepared” is the only word today to counter the unexpected. This seems paradoxical. How can one be prepared if what will come is unexpected? In the three perfect storm scenarios we study, one key common denominator is the preparedness of the three protagonists involved: Jesus, Apostle Paul and Prophet Jonah. Today we read Paul’s experience at sea, encountering a hurricane and shipwreck.**
HOW DID APOSTLE PAUL RIDE THE STORM? Like the other two examples we have read, he was well prepared in the Word of God and in the Spirit, remained calm, with the peace of Jesus in him, and even offered authoritative and accurate prophetic advice to the Roman Imperial centurion who was in charge. He did not have to worry or respond to the threatening storm. He continued his usual normal life of staying in the presence of God, praying and listening to the Lord’s instructions.
Take note of the change of attitude of the centurion. Paul was proven correct on his earlier prediction of the danger at sea. The centurion decided to listen to him after Paul was proven right -the life threatening storm arrived and hit them with the disastrous impact just as Paul had predicted. Finally, the whole ship-load of 276 men on board reached land safely despite the loss of the ship and the life boats too. Where did Paul acquire such accurate discernment and ability to do (say) the right thing at the right time?
Paul himself gave this answer: “And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.” (1 Corinthians 2:4-5) “But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God.” (1 Corinthians 2:10)
~~~~~~~~~~~~Acts 27 (NIV) (Quoted in parts; boldness added) When it was decided that we would sail for Italy, Paul and some other prisoners were handed over …5 When we had sailed across the open sea …, we landed at Myra in Lycia. 6 There the centurion found an Alexandrian ship sailing for Italy and put us on board. 7 We made slow headway for many days and had difficulty arriving off Cnidus. When the wind did not allow us to hold our course…
Paul gave his first warning but the leader would not listen
9 Much time had been lost, and sailing had already become dangerous because by now it was after the Day of Atonement*. So Paul warned them, 10 “Men, I can see that our voyage is going to be disastrous and bring great loss to ship and cargo, and to our own lives also.” 11 But the centurion, instead of listening to what Paul said, followed the advice of the pilot and of the owner of the ship… the majority decided that we should sail on, …
Paul’s warning came true: the dangerous storm came and hit them
14 Before very long, a wind of hurricane force, called the Northeaster (Euroclydon), swept down from the island. 15 The ship was caught by the storm … 18 We took such a violent battering from the storm that the next day they began to throw the cargo overboard. 19 On the third day, they threw the ship’s tackle overboard with their own hands. 20 When neither sun nor stars appeared for many days and the storm continued raging, we finally gave up all hope of being saved.
Paul’s second advice and testimony: prophecy and assurance it will come true
21 After they had gone a long time without food, Paul stood up before them and said: “Men, you should have taken my advice not to sail from Crete; then you would have spared yourselves this damage and loss. 22 But now I urge you to keep up your courage, because not one of you will be lost; only the ship will be destroyed. 23 Last night an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve stood beside me 24 and said, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul. You must stand trial before Caesar; and God has graciously given you the lives of all who sail with you.’ 25 So keep up your courage, men, for I have faith in God that it will happen just as he told me. 26 Nevertheless, we must run aground on some island.”
Paul’s third advice and warning: This time they listened and believed
27 On the fourteenth night we were still being driven across the Adriatic Sea, … 29 Fearing that we would be dashed against the rocks, they dropped four anchors from the stern and prayed for daylight. 30 In an attempt to escape from the ship, the sailors let the lifeboat down into the sea… 31 Then Paul said to the centurion and the soldiers, “Unless these men stay with the ship, you cannot be saved.” 32 So the soldiers cut the ropes that held the lifeboat and let it drift away.
Paul’s fourth advice and act of faith: This time they followed
33 Just before dawn Paul urged them all to eat. “For the last fourteen days,” he said, “you have been in constant suspense and have gone without food—you haven’t eaten anything. 34 Now I urge you to take some food. You need it to survive. Not one of you will lose a single hair from his head.” 35 After he said this, he took some bread and gave thanks to God in front of them all. Then he broke it and began to eat. 36 They were all encouraged and ate some food themselves. 37 Altogether there were 276 of us on board…
Paul’s prediction came true: Everyone reached land safely, not one perished.
39 When daylight came, …But the ship struck a sandbar and ran aground. The bow stuck fast and would not move, and the stern was broken to pieces by the pounding of the surf. 42 The soldiers planned to kill the prisoners to prevent any of them from swimming away and escaping. 43 But the centurion wanted to spare Paul’s life and kept them from carrying out their plan. He ordered those who could swim to jump overboard first and get to land. 44 The rest were to get there on planks or on other pieces of the ship. In this way everyone reached land safely.
*DAY OF ATONEMENT: Occurs in the fall, the tenth day of Tishri. In A.D. 59 this would have been October 5 (Marshall 1980:406).
**The ancients divided the navigational year on the Mediterranean into four periods. Sea travel on the Mediterranean ceased between November 11 and March 10. The dangers of “winter sailing” are: scant daylight, long nights, dense cloud cover, poor visibility and the double raging of winds, showers and snows. Paul, some other prisoners and Paul’s companions (including Luke) were put on a cargo ship sailing to Italy. The ship sailed at this dangerous time and encountered with Euroclydon, a cyclonic tempestuous northeast wind which blows in the Mediterranean, mostly in autumn and winter. The winds may or may not have rain mixed with them and come from the northeast often with a cyclonic circulation. They usually come up quickly, unexpectedly, and intensely. This was the great storm that wrecked their ship around AD 59.
Today we look at old hymns of spiritual revival and evangelism, especially the passion for missions to fulfill the Great Commission commanded by Jesus.
The following are quotes from the respective sources (links) at the end of this post).
The hymns do effectively reflect the distinctive theology of Simpson and the Alliance: the Spirit-filled deeper life, world evangelization, and the gospel of Christ as Saviour, Sanctifier, Healer and Coming King. This is no coincidence, since the songs were often the poetic essence of a poignant writing or an impassioned sermon. Moreover, the early publications of the Alliance and the writing of Simpson’s contemporaries indicate that his songs were held in great favor. Not only were they eagerly received, but they became dear to the hearts of those who sang them and carried them throughout the world.
Songs of the Spirit : hitherto unpublished poems and a few old favorites
Contents listed [117 hymns without music. Foreword: “Since his home-going on October twenty-ninth, many of [A.B. Simpson’s] friends have requested that his poetical writings be collected and published. The committee having in preparation his memoirs found a large number of manuscripts … Mrs. Simpson and her family … put all of them at our disposal. Selections … made from these new hymns which … with some … gems … familiar through … his periodical, ‘The Alliance Weekly,’ … now given to a wider circle. There remain enough … for a second volume …” (signed: The Editor. Nyack-on-the-Hudson)–p. 5-6
“Some … poems … written in Jerusalem, others on the Red Sea, and still others in the Far East during his firs missionary journey; while … ‘Safe Home’ … as he neared harbor after girdling the South American continent. Many of … hymns … under … preparation of his great sermons … sung to his own music from manuscript on Sunday mornings in the Gospel Tabernacle, New York City … rarely failed to send … Christmas greeting or New Year message in song; nor … his beloved school, the Missionary Institute, Nyack … without a Class Song The last hymn … gave us, ‘The Whole Bible to the Whole Wide World,’ was written for the Class of 1919 …”–Foreword [ctd.]
Excerpts describing Simpson’s focus as illustrated on one hymn, “Jesus Only”:
“As far as the subject matter is concerned, the most distinctive of Simpson’s hymns treat the Fourfold Gospel, the deeper Spirit-filled life, divine healing and world missions.
“The Fourfold Gospel is encapsulated effectively in the hymn “Jesus Only.” This hymn is instructive as well as devotional, and was used to teach the new Alliance that Jesus is Saviour, Sanctifier, Healer and Coming King. “Jesus Only” reveals Simpson’s deep personal love for Christ as well. The title may have been derived from the opening statement delivered at his first sermon in the Chestnut Street Church in December, 1873. “In coming among you, I am not ashamed to own this as the aim of ministry and to take these words as the motto and keynote of my future preaching: ‘Jesus only.’ The same hymn was printed in its entirety on the front cover of the special memorial issue of the Alliance Weekly shortly after his death in 1919. “Jesus Only” truly was the motto of A.B. Simpson’s life.
Jesus only is our message,
Jesus all our theme shall be.
We will lift up Jesus ever,
Jesus only will we see.
Jesus only is our Saviour,
all our guilt He bore away.
All our righteousness He gives us,
all our strength from day to day.
Jesus only is our Sanctifier,
cleansing us from self and sin.
And with all His Spirit’s fullness,
filling all our hearts within.
Jesus only is our Healer,
all our sicknesses He bears
and His risen life and fullness,
all His members still may share.
Jesus only is our power,
He the gift of Pentecost.
Jesus, breathe Thy power upon us,
fill us with the Holy Ghost.
And for Jesus we are waiting,
listening for the Advent call;
But ’twill still be Jesus only,
Jesus ever, all in all.
Jesus only, Jesus ever,
Jesus all in all we sing;
Saviour, Sanctifier and Healer,
Glorious Lord and Coming King.
“Jesus Only” was included in the very first Alliance hymnal in 1891 and remains one of the most distinctive songs of the denomination.