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Friday, November 2, 2012

A Job Experience # 18

In 2 Corinthians 6:1, we find that the Comforter begins this warning by using the word "beseech", which is the same word as "comfort" in chapter one; and like no other word in the Bible, the word "beseech" reveals the Spirit of Prayer, for it captures the very reality and essence of intercession. Through Paul's pen, the Comforter warns and beseeches: "We then, as workers together with Him, beseech you also that you receive not the grace of God in vain (to no purpose)." He warns, "Do not receive it (the grace of God) to no purpose". Therefore, the Comforter, the Intercessor, warns that it is possible to receive the grace of God, to receive eternal salvation, and still not allow God to fulfill His purpose in our lives.

Then, in verse three, the Comforter, the Intercessor, warns us by telling us just what it means to receive the grace of God in vain - to no purpose: He admonishes us, He warns us, He urges us, He beseeches us, to give "no cause for offense in anything," to put no obstruction in anyone's way, no occasion for stumbling to anyone, in order that our ministering service be not blamed. The Comforter, the Intercessor, beseeches us as God's servants that we represent Him in a way that is worthy of our God, that in everything, in act and in character, we become those in whom the reality of Christ is an actual living experience: - "but in everything commending ourselves as servants of God."

"In everything commending ourselves as servants of God, in much endurance, in afflictions, in hardships, in distresses, in beatings, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labors, in sleeplessness, in hunger, in purity, in knowledge, in patience, in kindness, in the Holy Spirit, in genuine love, in the word of truth, in the power of God; ... In everything commending ourselves as servants of God by the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and the left, by glory and dishonor, by evil report and good report; regarded as deceivers and yet true; as unknown yet well-known, as dying yet behold, we lie; as punished yet not put to death, as sorrowful yet always rejoicing, as poor yet making many rich, as having nothing yet possessing all things. In everything commending ourselves as servants of God ... giving no occasion of stumbling to anyone ... For ... we are an inner sanctuary of the living God, even as God said, "I will walk in them in fellowship with them as in a home and I will live My Life in and through them."

Beloved, this is "comfort," this is the reality of Christ, this is "the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God." - This is the Spirit of Prayer.

Oh, how encouraging and comforting it is to realize that when we are in the midst of any trouble, the Comforter, the Intercessor, the Holy Spirit Himself, is interceding for us: He is imploring and calling and entreating us into union with Him in purpose and in prayer; He is encouraging and urging us to press on as He rouses our spirit into action, and into union with Him, in purpose and in prayer. And right in the midst of our trouble, the Comforter, the Intercessor, is also conveying to our spirit a gentle-admonitory warning of anything that might hinder us or cause us to miss the right way of the Lord, a gentle admonitory warning of anything that could hinder His free flow in and through our innermost being. This, beloved, is the Spirit of Prayer that never ceases until God has His End through His Way! And what is even more comforting and encouraging, this Spirit of Prayer, this intercession of the Comforter Himself, is not only to "comfort" us but, according to God's Holy Word, this Spirit of Prayer, this intercession of the Comforter Himself, is to flow through our spirit unto those in any trouble.

No wonder Paul, who has been in the midst of deep tribulation and distress, breaks into adoring love, and worshiping praise, as he writes the Corinthians of the "comfort" wherewith he himself was comforted of God:

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort; Who comforts us in all our affliction so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God (2 Corinthians 1:3, 4).

And as we prayerfully read through the Book of 2 Corinthians, we find that Paul and those who shared in this experience are coming into a fuller understanding of God's Way of reaching His End, as they see the results of the purging work of the Lord in their innermost being: "But we ourselves had the sentence of death within ourselves in order that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God Who raises the dead ... so  death works in us, but life in you ... for momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison (2 Corinthians 1:9; 4:12, 17).

Then, in 2 Corinthians 12, we find Paul in the midst of what we believe was his "Job experience." We find him pleading with the Lord to remove "a thorn in the flesh." Paul says: "... because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations ... there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of satan to buffet me - to keep me from exalting myself!" - to keep me from being prideful, to keep me from being found in my own self-achieved righteousness, to keep me from laying hold of the Holy Things of God with the religious nature of my old man. And Paul goes on to say, "Concerning this I entreated the Lord three times that it might depart from me" (2 Corinthians 12:7, 8).

When Paul implores, entreats, and beseeches the Lord to remove "the thorn," he uses the word "besought" which, again, is the same word as "comfort" in chapter one; and the use of this word "comfort" by Paul indicates that the Comforter, the Intercessor, is moving in the Spirit of prayer. However, this time, the Comforter is urging Paul to share with his Lord that which is taking place in the depths of his innermost being - it is the Comforter's intercession which entreats and urges the bondservants to pour out unto the Lord all the tumult, all the turmoil, all the despair, all the distress, all the fears, all the need, all that is in the depths of their being. Remember, the enemy of God would stop this pouring out because he is against any sharing between the Lord and His servants.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 19)

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