Surrender Control – BT9
Should we boast in our “might and power” or our weaknesses?
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Instead of boasting in our musical “might and power” prowess, shouldn’t we accept our obvious human weaknesses, including the playing of beautiful music unto the Lord, as clearly shown in the previous BLOG and from the “Might and Power” page? Shouldn’t we think-pleasingly-acceptable and even boast in our weaknesses for the sake of Christ (a), because after all, Christ’s “enabling-power is made perfect/complete in our weakness” (b)? Do you know the reason why Paul was so quick to speak of his weaknesses (c) and even boast in them (a)? Paul found out that his great “might and power” of the flesh from being “a zealous Pharisee, persecutor of the Church, blameless down-from/according-to the righteousness of the Torah Law of conditional-favor” (d), and “educated at the feet of Gamaliel, a teacher of the Torah Law of conditional-favor, held in honor by all the people” (e) turned out to be a “complete loss . . . even a pile of excrement” (f). What a cathartic realization! Paul had a life-changing revelation: “For the foolishness of God is wiser than [the wisdom of] mankind and/coupled the weakness of God is stronger than the [the strength/might & power of] mankind” (g). The scales are seriously out of balance! <Notes> a) 2 Corinthians 11:30, 12:5, 9-10, b) 2 Corinthians 12:9, c) 1 Corinthians 2:3, d) Philippians 3:5-6, e) Acts 5:34, 22:3, f) Philippians 3:7-8, g) 1 Corinthians 1:25.
When did Paul get this ‘flipping or turning-point’ revelation? Paul could have easily become haughty and insolent after the revelation simply based on his impressive Jewish background of “might and power”, and Paul reveals this natural tendency above. Many times it really sounds like Paul was very close to bragging, but he justifies it to make a point. I’ve done the same on the Bible Info and About pages. Just think about the “Brood of Vipers” that Jesus regularly dealt with (a)! Paul could have been one of these or associated with them or was still studying under Gamaliel during Christ’s ministry. We don’t know, but he sure wasn’t a nice guy! He had their same arrogant attitude become a lead persecutor of the Church, traveling long distances to have one Christian after another stoned to death (b). He had a lot of blood on his hands! When Paul was converted and healed of his blindness from seeing Jesus on the road to more persecution, the Lord said through the prophet Ananias, “I will show you how much you must suffer for the sake of My name.” That’s exactly what happened! Paul was intensely persecuted by the very Jews he was previously defending. Crazy! <Notes> a) Matthew 3:7, 12:34, 23:33; Luke 3:7, b) Acts 8:1-8.
In 2 Corinthians 12:1-10 Paul tells of us when the “flip or turn” occurred. He was a Christian “14 years earlier,” which calculates to be around 42 AD. Since 2 Corinthians was written 56 AD and he was converted 33-36 AD, making him 28-31 years old since his birth in 5 AD, Paul would have only been in ministry a short 6-9 years around 42 AD. That would make him only 37 years old as an apostle to the entire Gentile world. Don’t you think that could go to anybody’s head? Especially based on Paul’s track record as a zealous haughty Pharisee? This has happened to more than one zealous young man! Alexander the Great started his military campaigns to rule the world at 20 years old. He succeeded and died at 33 years old. Young, ambitious men can be very haughty and very dangerous!
So in 42 AD at 37 years old Paul is “taken into the 3rd heavens into Paradise” and “shown/heard things that cannot be told, which man may not utter.” Wait a minute! Wasn’t the apostle John given the Book of Revelation, but God didn’t prevent him from telling us about heaven and the end of the world? Evidently, God knew what kind of man John was and that he would remain humble, but not Paul! So Paul admits, “So to keep me from being made haughty (a) due to the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a crucifixion-like-stake (b) was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to kolaphizo violently beat-by-fists (c) me in order that in possibility [that I may] not ongoingly be made haughty (d). Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But He said to me: ‘My unconditional-favor-of-grace is sufficient for you, for My enabling-power (e) is made perfect/complete in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast ALL the more gladly of my weaknesses in order that the enabling-power (e) of Christ may definitively/wholly rest-like-a-tent (f) towards/upon (g) me. For the sake of Christ, then, I eudokeo consider-pleasingly-acceptable in/by/with weaknesses, in/by/with insults, in/by/with hardships/pressing-situations, in/by/with persecutions and/coupled stenoxoria difficult-confining-distressing-circumstances. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” We can see that Paul is associating his weaknesses with insults, pressing-situations, persecutions and links this all to difficult-confining-distressing-circumstances. Jesus did say that Paul would “suffer greatly for My name sake!” <Notes> a) huperairomai: being made lifted/raised up, exalted, insolent, arrogant, b) skolops: pointed instrument like a stake or poll producing pain, used as a Greek equivalent of stauros for cross, c) kolaphizo: striking by blows of the knuckles of the fist, stinging and crushing, internally sharp and painful, d) huperairo: lifted/raised up, exalted, insolent, arrogant, e) dunamis, f) episkenoo: dwell like a pitched tent over – this is exactly the anointing of the Holy Spirit, g) epi with the accusative case following.
It’s crazy what people think Paul’s “thorn in the flesh” was – his bad eyes, his poor health? Paul tells us he was violently beaten-by-fists by a high-level demon or angel, directly from Satan. The skolops “thorn” is actually a pole or stake used from crucifixion as a form of persecution. At Christ’s crucifixion Satan didn’t even send a “messenger” but came himself! Paul links this “weakness” directly by kai with insults, hardships, persecutions, and difficult-confining-distressing-circumstances! This crucifixion-like ‘beating’ likely took place 3 times because Paul pleaded with the Lord 3 times for it to never happen again! Didn’t Paul just talked about “3 times I was rhabdizo beaten with rods (a), . . . and 3 times I was shipwrecked, even in the deep sea for a night and day” (b)? These beatings where done by Jews and the crowds they won over, and I bet it was fists, feet, rods, or whatever! If they could have crucified him, they would have! In one case after a stoning Paul was dragged outside the city to be thrown into the smoldering Gehenna trash heap, because they thought he was dead (c)! Satan’s messenger was certainly behind all this! Just as with Job, Satan was allowed by God to persecute him. Clearly Paul wasn’t just getting tired of this intense persecution, he was painfully pleading for this to stop, and he did it 3 times! The context leads me to believe it was for each of the 3 beatings. <Notes> a) rhabdizo the verb of rhabdos: staff, walking-stick, scepter, rod or branch, b) 2 Corinthians 11:25, c) Acts 14:19.
We always assume these “special” people of the bible like Paul get a total “flip/turn” of behavior in an instance. We don’t see the lapse of time in the bible narrative, sometimes very long lapse of time! I was recently talking with a brother who was sharing about his hippie days in the 1970s when Jesus-freak hippies were sharing the gospel with him and his buddy. He didn’t want to hear them, so he turned away from his friend and walked away a bit. Nevertheless, 1 or 2 words out of everything they spewed out somehow were heard by him and/or got stuck inside him because for days he couldn’t get them out of his head. This began his road to receiving the Lord in the park at a later date by some other hippies when he got immediately delivered by the Spirit from heroin!
Well, as he was telling me this I saw in my spirit the apostle Paul sitting on a big rock crying because he had failed once again to convince a group of Jews their need for The Truth of the gospel. This was early in that first 6-9 years of ministry when he was trying with all his “might and power” to reach his fellow countrymen. A lot of street ministers will tell you how brutal it is in those early years of ministry rejection when no matter how much zeal, no matter how much “might and power” training or effort, you just get “beaten up” and see so few results. You either quit or you get the Spirit’s empowerment and this only comes through profound revelation!
There is no coincidence that Paul later speaks often of “words of eloquent wisdom” (a) and “lofty speech or wisdom” (b) or “every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God” (c). Paul is attacking the very people that he was trained as an expert to be like! He had the same zeal, pride, and self-determination! He boasted he was a leader in such! But these “beatings” associated with “insults, pressing-situations, persecutions, which are all linked to difficult-confining-distressing-circumstances” really brought him to the end of his rope. They ‘beat’ the “might and power” right out of him – all his personal resources and Jewish educations just wasn’t enough, it wasn’t working, and it was getting him ‘beaten’ near death. He was also stoned once!
When the Lord showed me Paul crying while sitting on that rock, having once again being terribly rejected by the crowds in his early ministry, I started weeping inside for him, and I still feel it as I write. He was terribly frustrated and physically in pain. He was heartbroken and wept bitterly! I know this because in many ways my attempts at ministry often met the same fate. In 1980-83 I evangelized the University of Arizona campus for the Church of Christ, but never led one person to the Lord! I can’t tell you how many people I invited to dorm bible studies. I argued with so many people, and one is my friend now but he still hasn’t confessed “Jesus is Lord” or got water-baptized. And that’s exactly why the Lord showed me this, because He knows I can’t move effectively into the lives of people I know, which is rapidly expanding, or through this music ministry operating on the same zeal, self-determination, “might and flesh” that I’ve used in my extensive formal education and profession work careers – see Bible Info and About pages. It just isn’t effective in the kingdom of God! <Notes> a) 1 Corinthians 1:17, b) 1 Corinthians 2:1, c) 2 Corinthians 10:5.
Paul desperately wanted the Lord to stop the Jewish rejection and persecutions. He probably thought about quitting ministry or at least quitting his ministry to the Jews and turning instead to the Gentiles. He eventually did in Acts 13:46 after Barnabas and himself just had it with the Jews! This was around 46 AD, so about 4 years into his new understanding of Spirit-empowered ministry through humble confession of weakness. However, back in 42 AD Paul was saying to God that he wanted to remain Saul of Tarsus, though now just for a better “Christian” mission. But God said, “No” you are going to be “Paul” with a different ministry! Actually, this is just what happens to a lot of young ministries! But there’s a lot of older ministries that haven’t learned much better either!
But Paul came to the breaking point of surrendering his control, which he found was failing miserably, in exchange for the Lord’s unconditional-favor-of-grace, which is not based on our effort or merit, not based on our zeal or self-determination that comes with pride of accomplishment in our own “might and power.” The Lord revealed to Paul that eventful day, “My enabling-power (a) is made perfect/complete in weakness.” Wow, Paul never saw that coming! It knocked him all the way to the ground! That’s when Paul was shown ministry in a completely different-in-kind way, just like the New Covenant Way has nothing to do with the old one, sharing absolutely in fact with it, just as Zechariah 4:6 says: “No longer by might or power (d) but by My Spirit, says the Lord!” Paul decided then: “Therefore I will boast ALL the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the enabling-power (a) of Christ may definitively/wholly episkenoo rest-over-like-a-tent (b) towards/upon (c) me.” Then as he walked in this new ministry, he saw the Lord’s work and effectiveness in his life. This “resting like a tent over” is exactly what the anointing is! <Notes> a) dunamis, b) episkenoo: dwell like a pitched tent over, c) epi with the accusative case following, d) man’s external resources and internal abilities – see Might & Power page.
Paul was now experiencing a completely different-in-kind ministry, an anointed ministry! It’s not a “word-only” preaching ministry any longer, but a “full-gospel” ministry, because it is now “in demonstration/proof-manifestation of the Spirit and/coupled of enabling-power (a), so that your trusting-relying-faith might not in possibility rest in the wisdom of men (b) but in the enabling-power (a) of God” (c). The “coupling/linking” means that “enabling-power is the demonstration/proof-manifestation of the Spirit!” Paul told the Romans, these “proofs” were “what Christ has accomplished through me to bring the Gentiles to obedience – by logos message and/coupled ergo work/doing in/by/with the enabling-power of signs and wonders, in/by/with the enabling-power of the Spirit of God (d). Paul also reminded the Corinthians: “The signs of a true apostle (himself) were performed among you with utmost patience, with signs and wonders and mighty works” (f), just as Mark records Jesus promising in the Great Commission: for “these signs shall actually accompany those who have trusting-relying-faith: . . . [grace-gifts including tongues and healing] . . . the Lord worked with them and confirmed the logos message by accompanying signs” (e). Consequently, the phrase “signs and wonders” is used 16 times in the NT – 9 time in the book of Acts chronicling the history of the early Church, just as the book of Hebrews confirms: “God also sunepimartureo bore-witness-with by signs and wonders and various miracles and/coupled by grace-gifts of the Holy Spirit, distributed according to His will” (g). This is how God testifies to confirm the logos gospel message! Why wouldn’t He still do this? <Notes> a) dunamis, b) the preacher/teacher Paul used to be operating in with eloquent and lofty speech, c) 1 Corinthians 1:17, 2:1, 4-5, 13, 17; 4:20, d) Romans 15:19, e) Mark 16:17-20, f) 2 Corinthians 12:12, g) Hebrews 2:4.
After the Lord started showing me all this, especially seeing Paul cry and my friend then giving me a logos message of directly-spoken/heard prophetic rhema words from the Lord about still unconditionally-loving people like Jesus did with real sinners, like ourselves, who have also rejected my recent logos messages to unsaved people, and after another logos message of directly-spoken/heard prophetic rhema words and a testimony that night from his wife that she learned from the rejection of her logos message by unsaved friends of hers, her logos message to me to also continue unconditionally-loving them as a “light” but no longer preaching to them but instead consistently proseuchomai conversationally-praying for them, even in tongues, well “after all that” I ended up waking up at 4:30 am to surrender my control and confess my weaknesses in this area. I handed the 2 people in mind over to the Lord to work in their lives to reach them. The devil’s messengers kept coming to me that night and the next day to accuse me of my failure, but I rebuked them in the name/authority of Jesus and immediately went back there verses about “submitting unto God” by surrendering my control to Him to take responsibility for these 2 people.
As Christian musicians, we can “resist the devil” until you are blue in the face, but it will only be your “might and power” flesh trying to do this, even at 4:30 am in the morning, until we also “submit ourselves to God,” because these 2 phrases are kai coupled/linked together in James 4:7. I can see now why Paul was so quick to admit, even boast, and even consider-pleasantly-acceptable in his weaknesses, because if we give our lack of self-control/mastery that results in our sin, to the Lord through proseuche conversational-prayer, He will give us His self-control/master and resultant enabling-power. This is the divine exchange of “our failure for His success” that is part of the “propitiation or atonement” of Christ spoken of in Surrender-Control – BT2 and – BT3.
That’s the “flipping/turning-point” revelation Paul found out in 2 Corinthians 12:10 and what John realized in 1 John 1:5-10. This is how we continue walking/living in the light to have koinonia fellowship with God – not by denying, hiding from, or trying harder to overcome our weaknesses that lead to our sin, but to confess them, agree with the Lord about them, and let His blood cleanse us from all unrighteousness! That’s when the Lord’s enabling-power is released into action; that’s when it is brought to God’s intended completion or perfection! That’s what we will talk more about next!