LESSON 13
PROMISES FOR MINISTRY 
(SUMMARY OF 2 CORINTHIANS HIGHLIGHTS)

Copr. 1998, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.  All Scripture references are to
the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984
International Bible Society,  unless otherwise noted. Quotations
from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.
Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes
the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.

INTRODUCTION: This week we review some of the highlights of 2
Corinthians.  Specifically, we look at some of the promises which
we can claim for our ministry.

I. THE PROMISE OF GETTING TO "YES!"

     A. Read 2 Corinthians 1:16-20. Have you known someone who only
     kept his promises when it was to his advantage?

          1. How did that affect your relationship?

          2. How did you plan for the future when you were dealing
          with a person like this?

          3.In v.20 Paul tells us that all of God's promises are
          answered "Yes," in Christ. How is Jesus the "Yes" to
          God's promises?

               a. Was it to the advantage of God the Father to send
               Jesus to earth?

               b. If God the Father was willing to send Jesus, and
               Jesus was willing to go, what advantage will God
               withhold from you because it is inconvenient for
               Him?

               c. What does God the Father and God the Son's
               willingness to suffer torture and death for your
               benefit tell you about God's attitude towards you?

               d. A popular saying speaks of the "fear of the
               unknown."  Uncertainty can be frightening. What
               does God's attitude towards you, as demonstrated in
               His Son, do to uncertainty when it comes to God?

          4. Verse 20 says that we say "Amen" as a result of Jesus
          being the "Yes" to God's promises. In what ways do we say
          "Amen?" In what ways can we say "Amen?"

               a. What does "Amen" mean? (Thayer reports that
               "Amen" has been called the "best-known word in
               human speech" because it exists in so many
               languages. The word is an expression of trust.  It
               means "sure," "truly," "I agree" and "that's
               right!" When we see what Jesus had done to fulfill
               God's promises we can only stand up and say "That's
               Right!")

II. THE PROMISE OF FREEDOM.

     A. Read 2 Corinthians 3:12-18.  Paul writes in these verses
     about an "old covenant and a veil over the heart. What is the
     "old covenant?" (Read Exodus 24:3. A "covenant" is an
     agreement. When God told Israel, through Moses, what He wanted
     of His people and the people promised to do everything God
     asked they had a covenant.)

     B. What is the "new covenant?" (Read Jeremiah 31:31-33.
     Compare Hebrews 8:7-10.)

          1. How is the new covenant different than the old
          covenant?

               a. What do Jeremiah and the writer of Hebrews mean
               when they say, quoting God on the new covenant,  "I
               will put My laws in their minds and write them on
               their hearts?"

               b. In 2 Corinthians 3:16-17, the Spirit part of the
               Trinity of God is invoked as part of taking away
               the "veil" of the old covenant.  What role does the
               Spirit have in writing God's laws on our hearts and
               minds under the new covenant?

               c. Does this "heart-writing" bring liberty?

                    (1) Why? How?

III. THE PROMISE OF A "NEW VIEW."

     A. Let's skip down and read 2 Cor. 5:14-17.

          1. We know the phrase, "one died for all," (v.14) is a
          common reference to Jesus' death.  What does v.14 mean
          when Paul continues and says "therefore all die?"

               a. Should not the text say instead, "therefore all
               live?" (This refers to an attitude that we need.
               Since Jesus died for us, we need to be willing to
               sacrifice for the benefit of others.)

               b. "All died" is a pretty extreme term. Does the
               fact that Paul uses death as his point of
               reference, instead of saying, "all were slightly
               bothered" teach us that radical self-sacrifice is
               the goal?

          2. Verse 16 says that we will no longer "regard" someone
          from a worldly point of view.  First, how would you
          regard someone from a "worldly point of view?" (Money,
          power, education, position, and beauty would all raise
          your opinion of someone.)

               a. How should we view people?  What "view" does Paul
               recommend? (The view of self-sacrifice.  That would
               mean that our heroes would be missionaries and
               gospel workers who earn little while giving their
               lives to the gospel.  Our heroes would not be movie
               stars, sports stars and corporate leaders.)

               b. Verse 16 tells us that we once regarded Christ
               "from a worldly point of view."  How could we do
               that?  What does this mean? (If we are looking to
               Jesus for what we can get, as His disciples did at
               first, we look at him "from a worldly point of
               view.")

                    (1) Have we regarded Christ from a worldly
                    point of view?

                    (2) Are we looking at Him like that today?

               c. Verse 17 says we are a "new creation."  Will a
               new creature have a "new view?"

                    (1) What is that "new view?"

IV. THE PROMISE OF "BOOMERANG GENEROSITY."

     A. Read 2 Corinthians 9:6-11. In verse 6 Paul reminds the
     Corinthians of Proverbs 11:24-25 that links generosity to
     greater wealth and stinginess to greater poverty.

          1. Have you seen this principle operate in life? Is
          "giving" really "getting?" When you give something away,
          is it like planting seed or making an investment?

               a. If you really believed that you could get more by
               giving, would you be more generous than you are
               now?

               b. Is it possible that our actions show that we do
               not really believe this principle?

                    (1) And if we do not believe the principle,
                    does that account for our relative lack of
                    wealth?

          2. What attitude is God looking for in those who support
          His program? (Cheerful giver)

               a. What does that say about God? (He is not a
               tyrant, He is a lover. He is looking for people who
               want to serve Him, who love to serve Him -- not
               those who obey Him out of fear.)

          3. When we are talking about "reaping" or "getting,"  are
          we necessarily talking about money?

          4. How do you understand the statement in v.10 that God
          will "enlarge the harvest of your righteousness?" (Verse
          11 says that we "will be made rich in every way." This
          has to mean that we are not simply talking about money.
          This is a promise of increased ministry.  That God is
          anxious to expand our ministry for Him!)

V. PROMISES IN THE MIDST OF THORNS.

     A. Read 2 Corinthians 12:7-10.

     B. We just studied this last week. let's focus on this idea of
     strength in weakness and the "thorn" in Paul's flesh.

     C. Paul writes that having a "thorn in the flesh" was supposed
     to keep him from being conceited based on the private
     revelations God gave him about heaven. Would some pain or
     annoyance help you to guard against pride?

          1. Answer this from the perspective of a parent. Read
          Matthew 7:9-11.

               a. If you did something very special for your child,
               would you then "give him a thorn" to "make up" for
               being so nice before?

                    (1) Would you (2 Corinthians 12:7) torment your
                    child?

                    (2) Is a thorn a good gift?

               b. Who does Paul say gave him the thorn? (2
               Corinthians 12:7 tells us Satan's messenger gave
               him the thorn.)

               c. Does the fact that Satan gave Paul the thorn take
               God "off the hook" for it?

          2. 2 Corinthians 12:9 gives us the key to these answers
          about the thorn. Paul specifically gives us God's
          thinking on the subject. Let's read it again.

               a. God makes two points, what are they?

                    (1) My grace is sufficient for you.

                    (2) My power is made perfect in weakness.

               b. What does God mean when He says, "My grace is
               sufficient for you?" (When I think of "grace," I
               think of the cross. The answer to all pain,
               sickness and sorrow caused by Satan is the eternal
               life made possible by the cross.)

               c. In the meantime, how is God's power made perfect
               in our weakness or suffering?

                    (1) Do you remember God's conversation with
                    Gideon about the number of Gideon's troops
                    when they were planning the attack on the
                    Midianites? (In Judges 7:2 God tells Gideon he
                    is not weak enough, he has too many soldiers.
                    Why? Because at the end of the victory God
                    wants everyone to know that it was God and not
                    "the troops" who won the victory!)

     D. In light of this "power in weakness" idea, are we ever
     justified in saying that we cannot do some task for God
     because we are not properly equipped to do it?

     E. How many times did Paul ask to have the thorn taken away?

          1. How many times would you ask?

               a. How many times have you asked?

          2. Did Paul only ask three times because he understood
          God's "power in weakness" philosophy?

VI. NEXT WEEK: We begin a new study on knowing God.

               a. How many times have you asked?

          2. Did Paul only ask three times because he understood
          God's "power in weakness" philosophy?

VI. NEXT WEEK: We begin a new study on knowing God.