II Corinthians 9 -- 13
After his conversion, Paul lived with one purpose in life: To preach the Gospel in the regions beyond (in lands never before reached) (II Corinthians 10:16). Because of his great desire to see others saved and be with Jesus Christ, he gave up all his former material attainments of wealth, prestige, influence, and worldly acclaim: What (former) things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. . . . and I count all things as loss compared to the excellency (the priceless privilege) of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do consider it all dung (as undesirable as dung), that I may win Christ (have His approval). . . . forgetting those things which are behind . . . I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:7-8,13-14).
Paul not only often faced rejection from hostile enemies of Christ, but from believers well as. He recalls: Of the Jews five times I received forty stripes (lashes) save one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been (adrift) in the open (sea); In journeyings often, in perils (constant danger) by my own countrymen . . . by the heathen . . . perils in the city . . . perils in the wilderness . . . perils among false brethren; In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often (through many sleepless nights), I have endured hunger and thirst, often fasting, exposed to cold and lack of clothing. Besides the trials that are from the outside, there is daily the care of all the churches! (II Corinthians 11:24-28).
Like Paul, we have the responsibility to reach out to our world with the Word of God, which contains the Good News of eternal life. Surely everyone should have the opportunity of hearing, at least once, that whosoever was not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire (Revelation 20:15). Have you ever thought what it means for a person to die without being saved? That person will be eternally separated from God and in great torment in hell for all eternity. In fact, Jesus said that hell was a place of outer darkness: (where) there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth (Matthew 22:13; 24:51; 25:30). We usually think that only evil criminals will be in hell, but Jesus said to some very religious leaders: You are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father you will do (John 8:44). The dividing line between the sheep and the goats, the tares and the wheat, the saved and the lost rests upon one fact: Jesus said, I tell you the truth . . . If a man keep my sayings he shall never see death (be eternally lost). But He also added: For many are called, but few are chosen (Matthew 22:14).
Like the Apostle Paul, we need to consider our priorities, do they bring us closer to the Lord and His purpose for our life or take us further from Him? At the end of life, what a wonderful satisfaction it will be to be able to say, with Paul: I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith (II Timothy 4:7).
For II Corinthians 9:9: See Psa. 112:9. II Cor. 10:17: See Jer. 9:24. II Cor. 13:1: See Deut. 19:15.
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