Grace is Sufficient

Faith Church July 25, 2009 2 Corinthians 12:5-11


1.  We are continuing our series this morning on: Finding Hope in the Promises of God

- last week at studied 1 Cor. 10:13:

  • 1 Corinthians 10:13 No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.

2.  We found . . . .

  I.  Hope: All Situations Are Common to Man


III.  Hope: It’s Not More Than You Can Handle

IV.  Hope:  There Is a Way of Escape

 V.  Hope: There Is a Purpose – to ‘endure’

- I trust that study was helpful to you and challenging to you!

3. I want to remind you that God keeps ALL His promises because He is holy:

- we looked at what Peter said in 1 Peter 1:16 ‘You shall be holy for I am holy – and how Peter was quoting Moses’ writings in Lev. 11:44-45

4.  I want to begin our time with a question I asked you last week:

Input: What are some of the promises that God has made that have been very helpful/encouraging to you?

5.  Our focus today is on 2 Corinthians 12:5-10 – probably a very familiar verse to many of you – but one that gives us HOPE in any situation!

6.  Keep in mind The context of 2 Corinthians 12:10: Paul had a supernatural experience – but he didn’t fully understand what had happened.

- Paul didn’t give any “sensation or detailed description of what he saw or experienced in heaven but mentioned only what he heard.” – MacArthur, 2 Corinthians, p. 395

- and even that experience, he couldn’t talk a/b it in any more detail – he was forbidden to speak

Q: Why do you think that was the case?

1) The focal point is heaven is NOT heaven itself – it’s the God of the heavens – God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit

>  it’s not the PLACE (where we’re going) it’s the PERSON (who’s there)!

2) All we need to know about heaven is revealed in God’s Word.

- remember, it’s EVERYTHING there is to know, it’s everything we NEED to know to bring glory God!

  • Deuteronomy 29:29 "The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our sons forever, that we may observe all the words of this law.

“The true measure of a man of God does not lie in  his claims of visions and experiences with God, or the force of his personality, the size of his ministry, his educational degrees, or any other human criteria.  A true man of God is marked by how much he has suffered in the war against the kingdom of darkness, how concerned he is for people, how humble he is, and how accurately he handles the supernatural revelation found in God’s Word (2 Tim. 2:15).  Like Paul, such men patiently endure the suffering and humiliation of this life, knowing that such ‘momentary, light afflictions is producing . . . and eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison” (2 Cor. 4:17).” – MacArthur, 2 Corinthians, p. 396

- with those thoughts in mind, we’re going to divide up out study:

I.  Hope: God Allows Problems

II.  Hope: God Has a Purpose:

III. God Supplies a Promise: Grace

- let’s begin with the fact that we can have. . . .

I.  Hope: God Allows Problems!

A. Problems are a result of the curse of sin (Genesis 3)

- that’s the price of disobedience: DEATH – God warned Adam about that!

- not only death of mankind, but the curse of sin affect ALL creation

>  that’s why we have weeds, disease, & storms where trees fall over & crash into a house

> or animals that are hostile toward man & kill people – it’s a result of SIN

Point: God allows them – He is in control and nothing happens without His sovereign will!

B. Problems are a part of everyone’s life: Good and Bad!

- many people have asked: Why do bad things happen to good people?

- Examples: Death in a family, disease, and car accidents – other ex’s to very godly people…

> some of these examples are worse than what seems to happen to ungodly people!

- Jesus made this point in:

  • John 16:33 "These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world."

- Paul pointed out the same truth in Acts:

  • Acts 14:22 strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying, "Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God."
  • 2 Timothy 3:12 Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.

C.  The Big Question is: How do you RESPOND to those problems?

- do you respond with anger, worry, fear? Do you RUN from the problem? Get bitter?

- do you really think that God is SOVEREIGN and He allowed it to happen?

- do you really think that God has a PURPOSE for everything He allows to come into your life

* Point: The way Paul responded to the suffering he experienced provides a model by which all of us can learn and grow!

> to have HOPE that no matter what happens, it’s not more than we can handle

> to know that God is in control of EVERY situation

- and also to have . . .

II.  Hope: God Has a Purpose!

- there is always a reason why God allows something to happen

A. To reveal spiritual character. – 12:5-6

- when the pressure is ‘on’ – the REAL you comes to the surface

- Peter wrote his letter (1 Peter) under the rule of Nero (one of the most horrible, cruel rulers who persecuted Christians like no other):

[READ 1 Peter 1:3-9 – esp. note v. 7]]

- Paul revealed the genuine man he was: He could ‘brag’ in a sense, but didn’t because he understood the purpose behind what God was allowing in his life

B.  To make people humble – 12:7

  •  2 Corinthians 12:7 Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me-- to keep me from exalting myself!

- it’s easy to get the idea: “Look at me! Look what I’ve accomplished!”

- OR to even have the attitude: “I deserve ___________ (something good, etc.)!

Q: What does God really think about pride?

  • Proverbs 6:16 There are six things which the LORD hates, Yes, seven which are an abomination to Him:17Haughty eyes . .  [KJV = a proud look]

- to keep that from happening, God gave Paul a ‘thorn in the flesh . . . “

‘thorn’ = a stake used for impaling or torturing someone, a sharpened wooden staff

> graphically indicating the intensity of the suffering it caused Paul

‘in the flesh’ = could be translated ‘FOR’ the flesh or “because of the flesh” (revealing God’s purpose for the ‘thorn’)

NOTE: Good men differ on this subject, but I don’t believe ‘the flesh’ here is referring to his physical body, but it could also be . . .

‘in the flesh’ = a reference to Paul’s unredeemed humanness

> similar to Paul’s description in Romans 6:19, 7:5, 18)spiritual aspect of our

- even though we’ve been redeemed, we have still have sinful habits/desires that need control

‘a messenger of Satan’ = lit. ‘an angel’ – referring to a demon or metaphorically to enemies

C.  To motivate us to pray – 12:8

‘implored’ = to ask, to beseech, the idea of pleading (3 times!)

- this reveals the nature and seriousness of what Paul was facing

- we shouldn’t just go to God ONLY when we are dealing with a ‘thorn in the flesh’ (prayer ought to be a regular part of our lives and we ought to ‘pray without ceasing’

- this ties in with 1 Cor. 10:13 – the ‘way of escape’ – sometimes the best thing to do is PRAY!

Q: Did God answer Paul’s prayer?

i.e. that the ‘thorn in the flesh’ would leave Paul – to depart, to go away

A: YES – but not the way Paul wanted it

POINT:  God can use trials to draw us close to Him and motivate us to pray to Him!

  •  Hebrews 4:15 For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.16Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

- the next verse in 2 Cor. 12 is the KEY to this passage and a huge PROMISE from God!

- so we can have . . . . [DOUG TEACHES THIS NEXT POINT]

III. Hope: God Supplies a Promise! 12:9

  • 2 Corinthians 12:9 And He has said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness." Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.

- our problems allow God to demonstrate His AMAZING grace . . . .and SUFFICIENT grace

A.  ‘My grace’ = [grace appears 155 times in the NT] God’s unmerited (undeserved) favor

- we don’t deserve whatever God gives us AND we can’t EARN it – that’s the point of ‘unmerited’ favor – there is NOTHING you can to earn or deserve God’s grace

- if you could earn it or deserve it, then it would no longer be ‘grace’

- God’s grace begins at salvation which is by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone

  •  Ephesians 2:8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God;9not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.

- God’s grace continues through the progressive sanctification process (becoming more like Christ)

  • 2 Peter 3:18 but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

- God not only gives us His grace (which reveals the kind of God He is) but His grace …

B. ‘is sufficient’ = it is enough to endure the trial and accomplish whatever God wants!

- His grace is adequate, all we need – it’s ABUNDANT and INEXHAUSTABLE

- there is nothing we face that God’s grace cannot help us to bring glory to Him and to grow spiritually as a result . . . and He has plenty of it!!

[Examples of God giving you grace to make it through a situation]

C. ‘for power is perfected in weakness’

- the idea of power here is the Greek work dunamos (English word dynamite)

power’ = His strength and innate ability “is perfected” in our weaknesses

perfected’ = to finish, brought to maturity

IMPORTANT NOTE: The Greek word is linear in idea. * Power is continually increased as the weakness grows.

- it has the idea to bring to completion, to bring to perfection (i.e. the state of maturity)

- this will ultimately happen when we die or Jesus comes and the curse of sin is removed

- but going through trials or ‘thorns in the flesh’ is part of the progressive sanctification process (we NOT done yet . . . but the perfection can continue)

- Phil. 4:13 gives the same concept

  • Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.

- the context of this verse is Paul is in prison – some view this phrase “I can do all things” to mean “I can ‘accomplish all things” – whatever I seek to accomplish, I can always achieve it

- I disagree with that because the context of the verse is more “I can endure all things . . . through Christ” – i.e. with His grace supplied that is sufficient

“The human weakness opens the way for more of Christ’s power and grace.”[1]


1. Let’s close by looking at Paul’s response to all this!

Q: What was Paul’s response to this promise?

Q: Was he sad? Mad? Disappointed that God didn’t answer his prayer he prayed 3 times? Did he lose hope?

A: No – look at the rest of v. 9 [READ]

  • 2 Corinthians 12:9 And He has said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness." Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.

* Paul responded in a godly manner with plenty of hope!

  •  2 Corinthians 12:10 Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ's sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.

Q: Do you want to be strong?

Q: Do you want to have hope?

Q: Do you want to endure your trial instead of quitting?

Q: Do you want God to be glorified in your life?

- then you have to accept God’s promise of His sufficient grace and that His power is brought to maturity in your WEAKNESS

Faith Church