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*Nothing to Lose; Everything to Gain*
*2Corinthians 12:11-13:14               February 1, 2004*
* *
*Scripture Reading: *2Kings 19:14-22
 
*Introduction:*
 
Like the passage we read this morning in 2Kings 19 where King Hezekiah has nothing to lose and everything to gain, the situation in the Corinthian church has been so bad that it is like that with Paul.
Seemingly as a fool when confronted by the enemy, he spreads everything out before God and man, makes his case and will trust God for the results.
It is the Holy One of Israel against whom his detractors raise their voices.
It is the Holy One of Israel that will be exalted in the end on behalf of them all.
He gladly appears as a fool for the Corinthians.
He would have gladly given his life for them in the cause of Christ.
All through 2Corinthians Paul has been laying everything he knew, felt and experienced in Christ on the line for the Corinthian church.
He has made himself vulnerable.
He has given his testimony.
He has spoken the things of God beyond human reason.
He has fought the spiritual battle tooth and nail to keep them for the gospel of love and self-sacrifice that he gives them in spite of false teachers, naysayers, sinners and self-exalted hypocrites who want to belittle his ministry in the church and draw them astray.
He has attempted to argue and support his calling as an apostle and spiritual mentor to them.
He has answered all their baseless accusations with tremendous spiritual wisdom and insight – with humility as well as courage.
He has led them to the brink of understanding and obtaining victory.
You recall the last three messages on Getting Victory, Maintaining Victory, and Beyond Victory?
Now, in light of the victory he has taught – that is his, theirs and ours in Christ – Paul begins his conclusion in 2Corinthians 12:11 through the end of the letter, and we ask ourselves the question:
 
*Big Question:*
 
/Since I am assured of victory in Christ, how should I live my life here for Christ?/
I can risk everything for Christ because I know my calling, gifts and motives in Christ.
I can risk everything for Christ because I know the burden of love in Christ.
I can risk everything for Christ because I know the deep need of others for strength in Christ.
I can risk everything for Christ because I know the deep need of others for submission in Christ.
I can risk everything for Christ because I know that faith will be tested in Christ.
I can risk everything for Christ because I know the goal is perfection in Christ.
*I.
Cycle One*
 
*          A.
Narrative* (vv.
12:11-13)
 
*          B.
Implication*
 
/Since I am assured of victory in Christ, how should I live my life here for Christ?/
I can risk everything for Christ because I know my calling, gifts and motives in Christ.
*          C.
Illustration*
 
SUPER-APOSTLES (forgot their calling – they can risk nothing because they have gained nothing)
 
Survey: Only Half of Pastors Have 'Biblical' Worldview
Fred Jackson and Jody Brown, Agape Press
 
A new survey indicates that when it comes to developing a biblical worldview, a good place to start may be with the people in the pulpit.
What constitutes a "biblical" worldview?
Christian researcher George Barna says it includes a belief in absolute moral truth as defined by scripture, as well as acceptance of six core biblical beliefs: the accuracy of biblical teaching, the sinless nature of Jesus, the literal existence of Satan, the omnipotence and omniscience of God, salvation by grace alone, and the personal responsibility to evangelize.
In a recent survey of Protestant pastors conducted by the Barna Research Group, only half (51%) passed the test on whether they possess a biblical worldview.
Of the pastors surveyed, Southern Baptists scored the highest with 71% while United Methodists finished at the bottom with just 27%.
In between were 57% of pastors of Baptist churches (other than Southern Baptist), 51% of pastors of non-denominational Protestant churches, 44% of pastors of charismatic or Pentecostal churches, 35% of pastors of black churches, and 28% of pastors of leading mainline denominations.
Another point of interest in the survey dealt with education.
The pastors least likely to have a biblical worldview were seminary graduates.
There was also a significant gender gap in the results.
While 53% of male pastors possessed a biblical worldview, only 15% of female pastors fit that category.
In addition, white senior pastors were nearly twice as likely as black senior pastors to have a biblical worldview (55% vs. 30%).
And interestingly, the highest proportion of pastors showing evidence of a biblical worldview were found in the area of the country inhabited by people who are considered among the most liberal.
According to Barna, almost two-thirds (64%) of pastors in California, Oregon, and Washington "have such a moral and spiritual compass in place."
This report comes on the heels of another recent Barna survey that indicates only 9% of all born-again adults -- and just 7% of Protestants -- possess a biblical worldview.
This more recent survey, the researcher says, highlights a simple but important principle: "you can't give people what you don't have."
"The low percentage of Christians who have a biblical worldview is a direct reflection of the fact that half of our primary religious teachers and leaders do not have one," Barna says.
"In some denominations, the vast majority of clergy do not have a biblical worldview, and it shows up clearly in the data related to the theological views and moral choices of people who attend those churches."
Why is a biblical worldview important?
According to Barna, everyone has a worldview, but few have a biblical worldview -- which the researcher says has a radical effect on a person's life.
He says individuals' attitudes, beliefs, values, and opinions determine their behavior.
"Although most people own a Bible and know some of its content, our research found that most Americans have little idea how to integrate core biblical principles to form a unified and meaningful response to the challenges and opportunities of life," he says.
"We're often more concerned with survival amidst chaos than with experiencing truth and significance."
Barna's research indicates that adults with a biblical worldview possess radically different views on morality, hold divergent religious beliefs, and demonstrate vastly different lifestyle choices.
REINVENTED GOSPEL CHURCH:
 
Pastor Says Some Churches Preaching 'Reinvented' Gospel
Jim Brown, Agape Press
 
A well-known Christian author and pastor is concerned that a growing number of Evangelical ministers are watering down the gospel message in order to be "seeker sensitive."
Dr.
John MacArthur says many Evangelical pastors are presenting what he calls a "reinvented designer pop gospel" in hopes of making Christianity appear more attractive or culturally relevant.
The pastor of Grace Community Church in San Valley, California, says those who preach in that fashion have a weak view of the authority and power of scripture.
"I think it encompasses a weak view of the honor and the power of God and Christ," MacArthur says bluntly.  "In other words, I think you're basically usurping the Lordship of Christ over His Church -- you're saying, 'I'm going to stand here and give a message that I think is better than the one that Christ gave.'"
Such an attitude, he says, is "a frightening thing to think about."
MacArthur believes it is becoming harder than ever to find an Evangelical church that is not compromising the gospel.
He says small churches that remain true to God's Word and do not embrace a user-friendly gospel are often viewed today as "archaic" and "unsuccessful."
"The huge crowds are drawn by lowering all the standards," he says, citing such apporaches as a "minimalist gospel," an entertainment mentality, and creation of a social environment that attracts people by promising them "the path to success" and better economic status.
"You know ... 'You'll do better in your job, your career, your family, your marriage, etc.'" he says.
"Those are the kinds of things that are sold on the 'felt need' counter."
In his recently published book Hard to Believe, MacArthur contends that many professing Christians do not understand what it means to be a disciple of Christ because they are seeking an experience rather than a person.
He also takes aim at the so-called "health-and-wealth" and "name-it-and-claim-it" gospels.
C 2004 Agape Press.
All rights reserved.
Used with permission.
CHURCHES (churches can also forget their calling – I can risk being available because I know what I am called to do)
 
Survey: Those With 'The Answer' Weren't There to Answer (January 28, 2004)
Jody Brown, Agape Press
 
Have you ever experienced the frustration of wanting to do business with someone, but they never answer the phone or return your calls?
Apparently many churches in America need to take that lesson to heart and monitor their phones a little more closely.
During the month of December, a Christian research organization called 3,400 randomly selected Protestant churches across the country.
And they didn't call just once -- they called each church at least five times over a two-week period during normal business hours, making sure those calls were made at different times of the day.
The California-based Barna Research Group reports some surprising findings.
Simply put, most churches did not answer the phone, says Barna.
A human being could not be reached at more than half (55%) of the nation's churches -- and in roughly 20% of the cases, the phone went unanswered by either a person or an answering machine in each of the five separate attempts.
One out of every six churches (16%), Barna says, had an answering machine responding to all five attempts.
George Barna, director of the study, notes that while many churches go all-out in outreach ministries during the Christmas season – offering seasonal musical events and special holiday services, and focusing efforts on attracting and welcoming visitors -- "nobody is covering the phones!"
The researcher contends that it is unlikely that "consumers" with busy schedules and questions about how "user-friendly" churches are will endure the frustration of trying to communicate with a church.
"If ministry is based on relationships and interaction, then many churches might find it easier to penetrate the community if they were more accessible to the people whoa re showing an interest in the church," he says.
And while there were some demographic differences noted in the study findings -- such as United Methodist churches being the most responsive to incoming calls, and the South being the toughest area of the country in which to make personal contact -- Barna urges churches to "capture the big picture" instead of focusing on the denominational or regional differences.
He maintains that with the ability of high-tech communications being able to put people in contact with one another immediately, "organizations that seemingly defy people to penetrate their fortress quickly become an after-thought in people's lives."
Barna Research Group (http:~/~/www.barna.org)
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