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By Tricia Gunn

I put these notes together for a friend who was being misunderstood when she preached the pure gospel of God's grace. These are notes I pieced together from different teachings over the years, so this is not a polished blog. But I hope it encourages the reader to keep on keepin on spreading the Good News of the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. I know what it's like to be rejected for the sake of grace. But... I wouldn't trade a day of my life for the joy that I've experienced myself and the joy I've seen in others when the veil of condemnation is removed and they see Jesus face to face.

For all things are for your sakes, so that the grace which is spreading to more and more people may cause the giving of thanks to abound to the glory of God. (2 Corinthians 4:15)

Arguments of a debater

For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. [Paul is getting ready to tell us that the “war” is simply changing the way we think] For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal [carnal means not lead by the Spirit of God] but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds… (2 Corinthians 10:3-4)

“Stronghold”  - [From Strong’s concordance] “of the arguments and reasonings by which a debater tries to strengthen his opinion and defend it against his opponent.” 

The enemy uses the mouths of debaters to argue with the truth. [We don’t battle against flesh and blood - Eph 6] They twist our words and take our words out of context. They question our motives and use Fallacies in their arguments against grace.

  • Straw Man - Misrepresenting your opponent’s argument to make it easier to attack.
  • Ad Hominem - Attacking your opponent’s character instead of the argument when you realize you can’t win
  • Appeal to an authority - Because X-important person believes it, it must be true
  • Appeal to Emotion - manipulating an emotional response in place of a valid argument.
  • The Fallacy Fallacy - presuming that because a person makes a bad argument for something, then his conclusion must be wrong.
  • Loaded Question - Asking a question that has a presumption built into it so that it can’t be answered without appearing guilty.
  • Middle ground - saying that a compromise, or middle point between two extremes must be the truth.
  • Bandwagon - arguing based on the crowd mentality. How could so many people be wrong?
For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ…(2 Corinthians 10:3-5, again)

Whose obedience do we bring every thought captive to? Christ’s obedience! His obedience to die on the cross for you - His obedience which has made you righteous. 

For as by one man’s disobedience [Adam] many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s obedience [Jesus] many will be made righteous. (Romans 5:19)

Take it to the cross where every argument was settled!

Persecution

Grace is controversial. The reason we call it scandalous is because it is! Christ died for the ungodly! If you preach the Gospel that Paul preached, you will be misunderstood by some. You may be asked:

Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? (Romans 6:1)

Your answer is - of course not! Like Paul, we may be accused of making light of sin, but grace doesn’t make light of sin! Grace makes much of Jesus! But Paul was greatly misunderstood. At one point, he was even rejected by all his friends. 

At my first defense no one stood with me, but all forsook me. May it not be charged against them. But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me, so that the message might be preached fully through me, and that all the Gentiles might hear. (2 Timothy 4:16-17)

Listen to how that played out:

Yet I dare not boast about anything except what Christ has done through me, bringing the Gentiles to God by [#1] my message and [#2] by the way I worked among them. They were convinced by the power of miraculous signs and wonders and by the power of God’s Spirit. In this way, I have fully presented the Good News of Christ (Romans 15:18-19, NLT)

Not only was Paul forsaken, Jesus was forsaken on His worst day:

Indeed the hour is coming, yes, has now come, that you will be scattered, each to his own, and will leave Me alone. And yet I am not alone, because the Father is with Me. (John 16:32)
Then all of His disciples abandoned Him and fled. (Mark 14:50, AMP)

Jesus was forsaken that you would never have to be. Because of the Father's love for you, He sent His Son to die for you and make you righteous, and God will always be on your side. 

If God is for us, who can be against us? (Romans 8:31)

Don’t be surprised when you bring the words of life and people walk way. It happened to Jesus:

This is the bread which came down from heaven—not as your fathers ate the manna, and are dead. He who eats this bread will live forever.”… He said to them, “Does this offend you? …From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more. Then Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you also want to go away?” But Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” (John 6:58-61, 66-69)
  All who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. (2 Timothy 3:12)

Persecute - “to make one flee, to drive away; to pursue in a hostile manner, to harass, trouble, molest, mistreat.”

If you belong to Christ and desire to live a godly life, you will suffer persecution. Persecution is people coming against you because of your stand for the Gospel. 

Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter. (1 Peter 4:16)
“Blessed are you when men hate you, And when they exclude you, And revile you, and cast out your name as evil, For the Son of Man’s sake. Rejoice in that day and leap for joy! For indeed your reward is great in heaven.” (Luke 6:22-23)

When you are persecuted, rejoice! It’s part of the Christian life. When it happens, count it joy to suffer shame for His name. 

Who is he who will harm you if you become followers of what is good? But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you are blessed. “And do not be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled.” (1 Peter 3:14)

Remember what Paul said in Romans 8:

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. (Romans 8:18)

We have to keep our eyes on the ball - heaven!

Paul was was so focused on heaven that he weighed his options: should I keep on living here ?   OR  should I  go on and be with Jesus?

For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. But if I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor; yet what I shall choose I cannot tell. For I am hard-pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better. [Sounds like he had a choice! And his opinion was that he would rather be with Jesus than live here. He had a big dilemma! He was “hard pressed.”] Nevertheless to remain in the flesh is more needful for you. [to remain in this earthen vessel is better for the people left on earth! Once your body dies, you’re gone!] Being confident of this, I know that I shall remain and continue with you all for your progress and joy of faith. (Philippians 1:21-25)

Does this sound like someone who thinks, “Whatever happens, happens...”? No. Paul had a choice. He chose to stay for their sakes.

There was an urgency to spread the Gospel -

If it seems we are crazy, it is to bring glory to God. And if we are in our right minds, it is for your benefit. Either way, Christ’s love controls us. (2 Corinthians 5:13-14, NLT)

Before he died, Paul said this,

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. (2 Timothy 4:7)

Geese

Think of geese: they fly in a v-formation so that the center goose flies ahead of everyone else.  He’s breaking the current so that everyone else can fly effortlessly.  It gets easier and easier to fly the further back a goose is so that the weakest ones are in the back. 

The more you spread the Gospel and stand up to resistance, the more you pave the way for others.

Final thought: 

When Paul was put on trial, he said - 

…all forsook me. May it not be charged against them. (2 Timothy 4:16-17)

The last thing Stephen said when he was being stoned - 

“Lord, do not charge them with this sin.” (Acts 7:60)

On the cross, Jesus said -

“Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.” (Luke 23:34)

For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.

(1 Corinthians 2:2, NASB)

 

***More scriptures that mention Paul's persecution

Act 4:18-21 - So they called them and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus. 19 But Peter and John answered and said to them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge. 20 For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.” 21 So when they had further threatened them, they let them go, finding no way of punishing them, because of the people, since they all glorified God for what had been done.

Acts 9:29 - And he spoke boldly in the name of the Lord Jesus and disputed against the Hellenists, but they attempted to kill him.

Acts 13:50 - But the Jews stirred up the devout and prominent women and the chief men of the city, raised up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them from their region.

Acts 14:5 - …a violent attempt was made by both the Gentiles and Jews, with their rulers, to abuse and stone them,…

Acts 14:19 - Then Jews from Antioch and Iconium came there; and having persuaded the multitudes, they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing him to be dead.

Acts 16:22 - Then the multitude rose up together against them; and the magistrates tore off their clothes and commanded them to be beaten with rods.

Acts 18:12 - …Gallio was proconsul of Achaia, the Jews with one accord rose up against Paul and brought him to the judgment seat,…

Acts 21:36 - For the multitude of the people followed after, crying out, “Away with him!”

Acts 22:22 - And they listened to him until this word, and then they raised their voices and said, “Away with such a fellow from the earth, for he is not fit to live!”

Acts 23:10 - Now when there arose a great dissension, the commander, fearing lest Paul might be pulled to pieces by them, commanded the soldiers to go down and take him by force from among them, and bring him into the barracks.

1 Corinthians 4:12 - And we labor, working with our own hands. Being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we endure;…

2 Corinthians 4:9 - persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed…

2 Corinthians 11:24 - From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one.

2 Timothy 2:9 - for which I suffer trouble as an evildoer, even to the point of chains; but the word of God is not chained.

2 Timothy 3:11 - persecutions, afflictions, which happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra—what persecutions I endured. And out of them all the Lord delivered me.

Acts 18:9 - Now the Lord spoke to Paul in the night by a vision, “Do not be afraid, but speak, and do not keep silent; 10 for I am with you, and no one will attack you to hurt you; for I have many people in this city.”

And then, of course, there was Stephen:

Acts 7:58-60 - ...and they cast him out of the city and stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their clothes at the feet of a young man named Saul. 59 And they stoned Stephen as he was calling on God and saying, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” 60 Then he knelt down and cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not charge them with this sin.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep.

 

All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New King James Version. Scripture taken from the New King James Version® Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. 

Scripture quotations taken from the New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation

Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996, 2004, 2007, 2013 by Tyndale House Foundation of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Scripture quotations taken from the Amplified® Bible, Copyright © 1954, 1958, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1987 by The Lockman Foundation