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Caught-Up part 1
Based on the title of this week's study, I know that some of you are thinking we will be looking into the rapture of the church this week. We will not be. (But we may dive into that in some of the upcoming weeks; we’ll see how that might come together.) For now let’s get rolling this week with 2 Corinthians 12:1-4 where we read: “I must go on boasting. Although there is nothing to be gained, I will go on to visions and revelations from the Lord. 2 I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven. Whether it was in the body or out of the body I do not know – God knows. 3 And I know that this man – whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, but God knows – 4 was caught up to paradise. He heard inexpressible things, things that man is not permitted to tell.”
When Paul says, “I must go on boasting,” he is referring to something he was addressing in the previous chapter. In verse one he says, “I hope you will put up with a little of my foolishness.”The “foolishness” he is referring to is his boasting of who he is and what he has done for God. Some false apostles, in fact he calls them super-apostles, had come along and were seeking to lead the Corinthian believers astray, so Paul has to re-establish his credibility with them by listing all of his accomplishments.
2 Corinthians 11:22-28 “Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they Abraham's descendants? So am I. 23 Are they servants of Christ? (I am out of my mind to talk like this.) I am more. I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. 24 Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, 26 I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my own countrymen, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false brothers. 27 I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. 28 Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches.”
It seems that by this point Paul says, “I’m on a roll now. You got me started on this and I’m going to continue, so I must go on boasting.” However, right after this he says something quite interesting, “There is nothing to be gained from all of this.” Paul was spiritual man and he knew that boasting was emptiness and that it was only important to man. Men like to be puffed up, but this means nothing to God. Then he says, “Look, if you really want to talk about something, let’s go on to visions and revelations. I know a man that was caught up into the third heaven 14 years ago. He heard inexpressible things, things that man is not permitted to tell.” Most theologians believe that the “man” Paul was referring to was himself. That’s also brought out later in the chapter when he talks about the surpassingly great revelations he had received from the Lord.
Further proof that Paul was not into boasting is the fact that this is the first account of this event. It happened 14 years prior and Paul had not shared it with anyone. That alone shows some credibility because of the tendency for most of us to boast of our spiritual experiences. Men tend to believe that these kinds of experiences indicate they are “close to God.” So without coming straight out and saying, “You know I’m really close to God,” we simply “share” about the great things we have done for God hoping people will make the connection.
That lays the ground-work for what I really want us to focus in on in this week verses. It’s the fact that Paul was “caught-up.” When Paul said he knew a man who was “caught-up,” it’s the Greek word har-pad’-zo, which means – “caught-up.” He was caught-up into paradise. It’s from this word that we get the word or idea of “rapture.” To be raptured or enraptured is to be caught-up or simply “taken-up.” Perhaps you’ve heard of someone who was so “taken-up” with another person they couldn’t think straight. That’s what you call, “young love” (the inability to think straight). I heard once of a husband who said to his wife, “Honey, I love you terribly.” She responded, “You certainly do.”
Medication: A Merry Heart
Mary was discussing the various aspects and possible outcome of an insurance policy with the clerk at the insurance agency. During the discussion, she asked, "Suppose I take the life insurance for my husband today for a million dollars, and tomorrow he dies? What will I get?"
The clerk eyed her suspiciously and replied, "Probably a life sentence."
St Mark’s Community Church, Janesville
New Beginnings Church, New Ulm
Verse of the Week: Mark 16:15
Today’s readings: 1 Samuel 4 – 8