October 09, 2022     The Seventeenth Sunday After Trinity

The Nineteenth Sunday of the Pentecost Season


The Devotion and Love Our Heavenly Father has for Us


In 1858, a man named John Gray was buried in old Greyfriars Churchyard, Edinburgh, Scotland. 

He had no family and few friends.  There was no marker or monument to mark his final resting place.  And so it wasn’t long before his grave site was all but indistinguishable.

            However, while John Gray was all but forgotten by the human race, his grave was not totally disregarded and forgotten.   For fourteen years, the dead man’s faithful dog kept constant watch and guard over Gray’s grave until its own death in 1872.  Afterward, James Brown, the curator of the cemetery, spoke about Gray’s funeral, and about his dog, Bobby, a Skye terrier.   He said that Bobby had been one of the most conspicuous mourners on the day of his master’s funeral;  it was hard for anyone to ignore Bobby’s grief.   After the burial service, Gray’s grave was filled in with dirt.  And the very next morning Bobby was found lying on the newly-made mound.

            This was something that the curator could not permit, since the cemetery’s rule was clearly spelled out on a sign at the main gate.   It declared that dogs were not to be admitted to the cemetery.   Bobby, who had already enjoyed an exception to that rule a day earlier, was promptly driven out.   And yet, the very next morning there he was again at his master’s grave.   For the second time the Skye terrier was chased out.  The third morning after Gray’s funeral was cold and wet.   When James Brown observed the devoted animal once more, in spite of all attempts to have driven him out, lying shivering on Gray’s grave, he took pity on him and gave him some food.   Brown’s reluctant recognition of his loving devotion gave Bobby the right to make the churchyard cemetery his home.   From that time until his own death 14 years later Bobby never spent a night away from his master’s tomb.

            Often during bad weather attempts were made to get Bobby to stay indoors, but with the most dismal of howls he succeeded in making it known that this interference was not acceptable to him, and he always was allowed to have his way in the end.   Over the years at almost any time during the day he could be seen in or around the churchyard.   And no matter how rough the night, nothing could force Bobby to forsake that hallowed spot, the grave of his master John Gray, whose identity he so faithfully preserved through his unrelenting devotion.

            That’s the story of the life of Greyfriar cemetery’s devoted dog, Bobby…..with one addition.   Bobby’s relentless love for his master was later commemorated when a statue in his likeness, along with a fountain, was placed in the cemetery.  They were unveiled on November 15, 1873 without any ceremony…..just a year after faithful Bobby’s passing.

Today’s Scripture Lessons

            The year was 586 BC.  Over a period of 20 years the nation of Judah had been systematically reduced to virtually nothing but rubble…..the result of three Babylonian invasions that God had permitted and used as a means of severely disciplining His people.   The reason for that discipline was Judah’s apostasy;  its people had forsaken the worship of the true God.   Instead, they had chosen to engage in gross idolatry, even in human sacrifices.   After years of calling them to repent through messengers like Jeremiah, God’s patience was all but exhausted.  After two previous deportations involving Judah’s leaders and craftsmen, the Babylonians finally carried off into captivity most of the survivors of Jerusalem’s destruction.  The city was left in ruins.  Solomon’s temple was utterly destroyed.   The nation was, for all intents and purposes, dead.  One of the few non-captive survivors, the prophet Jeremiah surveyed the sad scene and wrote a series of Lamentations…..one of which serves as our Old Testament Lesson for today.  In it Jeremiah expresses his grief over God’s judgment of Judah, and agonizes over his own sufferings and initial feelings of being forsaken and forgotten by God.  But, as he reflects upon all that has happened, He realizes that God has disciplined, but not rejected, His people….and that the Lord’s discipline has been delivered from a loving heart intending to lead His people to eventual repentance and restoration.  And, because He sees God’s love, even in this great tragedy, Jeremiah knows that they have not been forsaken, but remained the object of God’s love.

            In our Epistle Lesson for today, Paul speaks to Christians in Rome who are already enduring some persecution for the sake of their faith in Christ…..and who are going to endure even more persecution in the years ahead.  What’s more, living in a sinful world, Paul knew those believers also had to deal with a myriad of other problems that caused them pain and heartache.  Consequently, to encourage them in their faith – even as they faced adversity in life – the Apostle to the Gentiles reminded them of the Lord’s steadfast love for His people…..a love that was most evident in the sacrifice of Christ for their salvation.   Because God loves us, His believing children,  enough to have given His Son to be our Savior, we can be sure that He will make everything in our lives (including our problems and perils) work out for our earthly good and our everlasting benefit.   His love for us is relentless and will endure eternally.

            Through today’s Children’s Lesson we’ll be reminded that our God loves us and always will…..and that He has proved it by making us His believing children for today and heaven’s heirs forever.  

            Finally this morning’s Gospel Lesson/Sermon Text is Jesus’ familiar and endearing parable of the Prodigal Son.  Sometimes (and for very good reason) it is also referred to as the parable of the Waiting and Forgiving Father.   It’s been said that this portion of Scripture has been preached on more often, by more ministers, than any other passage in God’s Word…..and that may well be true both because of its clear Gospel content, and because we sinners relate so well to the attitudes and behaviors which both sons manifest in this parable.    Neither son understood, let alone appreciated, his father’s all-encompassing love for both of them.   Among other deficiencies, each son saw service to his father as a burden.  Both were materialistic and selfish – though in different ways.  Each felt that he was owed much by his father.  And both lacked the very necessary personal qualities of an appreciation for family and of compassionate love.   In spite of their deficiencies, their father loved them both deeply, showing it by waiting and then eagerly welcoming home the Prodigal Son, and by seeking out and instructing the jealous and antagonistic older brother.  Both sons had succumbed to their sinful natures.  Both sons needed and received reconciliation and restoration through the compassionate love of their forgiving father.

Prayer Upon Entering  Heavenly Father, You showed Your grace by bringing me to faith in Christ through the work of Your Holy Spirit, and then by giving me the blessing of being called Your child.  Though what I offer You today is so small, compared to all that You have done for me, please accept my humble praise and thanksgiving, as well as my offerings to You.  Also, Lord, help me gladly to hear and take to heart the Good News of salvation from sin for me and all people through faith in Your Son, my Savior.  Renew and invigorate me with Your Holy Spirit today and every day, that I might live a confident life of faith and love to Your glory,  and that I might share, by all possible means, at every opportunity, the same Good News of salvation through Christ which has filled my life with peace and purpose.  Amen.


The portions of God’s Word used in this worship flyer have been taken from The Holy Bible, Evangelical Heritage Version    Copyright 2019, The Wartburg Project, Inc.   All rights reserved.   Used with permission Music and lyrics, as needed, are used with permission via OneLicense.net  #A712831

Silent Prayer upon entering the sanctuary

Pre-service music                                                                                                                                              



We Praise Our God

The Welcoming and Introduction to Worship

the Congregation will rise for the invocation

The Invocation

Pastor                                      We begin this service in the name of the Father

Congregation  Who gave us our lives through His almighty power.


P:                     And of the Son

C:                     Who redeemed our lives with His precious blood.


P:                     And of the Holy Spirit

C:                     Who gave us eternal life through faith in Christ Jesus.

P:                     Amen.


Today’s Psalm Reading                                                                                                                    Psalm 103

P:     Praise the LORD , O my soul;  all my inmost being, praise His holy name.

C:     raise the LORD , O my soul,  and forget not all His benefits-

P:     Who forgives all your sins  and heals all your diseases,  Who redeems your life from the pit  and crowns you           with love and compassion,

C:     Who satisfies your desires with good things    +    so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

P:     The LORD works righteousness and justice for all the oppressed.

C:     He made known His ways to Moses,   +     His deeds to the people of Israel:

P:     The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. He will not always accuse, nor                  will He harbor His anger forever;

C:     He does not treat us as our sins deserve   +    or repay us according to our iniquities.

P:      For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His love for those who fear Him;

C:     as far as the east is from the west,   +    so far has He removed our transgressions from us.

P:     As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear Him;

C:     for He knows how we are formed,    +    He remembers that we are dust.

P:     As for man, his days are like grass, he flourishes like a flower of the field;

C:     The wind blows over it and it is gone,   +    and its place remembers it no more.

P:     But from everlasting to everlasting the LORD’s love is with those who fear Him, and His righteousness with     

         their children’s children-

C:     with those who keep His covenant and remember to obey His precepts.

P:      The LORD has established his throne in heaven, and His kingdom rules over all.

C:      Praise the LORD , you His angels,   +     you mighty ones who do His bidding, who obey His word.

P:      Praise the LORD , all His heavenly hosts, you His servants who do His will.

C:      Praise the LORD , all His works everywhere in His dominion. +  Praise the LORD, O my soul.

After which the Congregation will be seated for

The Opening Hymn                                                                                        “Joyful, Joyful, We Adore You”

                                                                                                              To the melody of “Ode to Joy”   cwh, 1999


Joyful, joyful we adore You,   God of glory, God of love!

Heav’n and earth bow down before You,       Praising You, our Lord above.

You our Father,   Christ our Savior,       With the Spirit faith provides,

Life eternal we’ve been granted, gracious gift that e’er abides.


You are giving and forgiving,      Ever glorious, Ever blest.

Source of every kind of blessing,    Giver of eternal rest.

You have claimed us as Your children       Heaven’s heirs through faith alone —

In the Rock of our salvation,   Jesus Christ, our Lord, Your Son.


Lord, receive our prayers and praises,  weak and humble though they be.

Yours the power, Yours the glory,   Both today and endlessly.

None beside You, None before You, God of mercy, full and free.

Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, ever blessed Trinity.     Amen.


After which the Congregation will rise as

We Confess our Sins Before the Lord


Pastor    God, our Heavenly Father, invites us to come into His presence and to worship Him with humble and penitent hearts.  Therefore, let us acknowledge our sinfulness and ask Him to forgive us.

Congregation      Holy and merciful Father, +   I confess that I am by nature sinful   +   and that I have disobeyed You in my thoughts, words, and actions;    +    I have done what is evil    +   and failed to do what is good.   +    For this I deserve Your punishment,   +    both now and in eternity.     +     But I am truly sorry for my sins,     +   and trusting in my Savior,  Jesus Christ, +   I pray:    +  God have mercy on me, a sinner.


Pastor      God our heavenly Father, has been merciful to us and has given His only Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins.   Therefore, as a called servant of God and by His authority, I forgive you all your sins in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.  

Congregation   Amen.



Lord, Have Mercy


P:         For all that we need in life, and for the wisdom to use all Your gifts with gratitude and joy, hear our prayer,      O Lord.

C:         (sung)   Lord have mercy.

P:         For the steadfast assurance that nothing can separate us from Your love and for the courage to stand firm       against the assaults of Satan and every evil, hear our prayer, O Christ:

C:         (sung)   Christ have mercy.

P:         For the well-being of Your holy Church in all the world and for those who offer here their worship and     

            praise, hear our prayer, O Lord

C:         (sung)   Lord have mercy.

P:         Merciful God, Maker and Preserver of life, uphold us by Your power, and keep us in Your tender care:

C:         (sung)   Amen.


P:         The works of the Lord are great and glorious;   His name is worthy of praise.



O Lord, our Lord, How glorious is Your name in all the earth.

Almighty God, merciful Father, Your crown our life with Your love.

You take away our sin;    You comfort our spirit;

You make us pure and holy in Your sight.

You did not spare Your only Son, but gave Him up for us all.

O Lord, our Lord, How glorious is Your name in all the earth.

O Son of God, eternal Word of the Father,

You came to live with us;   You made Your Father known;

You washed us from our sins in Your own blood.

You are the King of glory;   You are the Lord!

O Lord, our Lord, How glorious is Your name in all the earth.


after which the Congregation  may be seated


The Prayer for Today

O Almighty God, our Heavenly Father  +  as we meditate on Your Word today   +   move us to repent of all our sins  + particularly the sins of worrying,   +   of being worldly, +   selfish,   +   weak-willed,   +   idolatrous,   +   and indifferent toward Your Word.   +    Enable us,  +   through Your Spirit’s aid,   +   and motivated by the Gospel,   +     to resist the Devil’s temptations,   +   the evil influences of this wicked world,   +   and the deceitful desires and wicked ways of our own sinful nature.   +   Empower us to grow in our faithfulness to You  +   and increase our trust in You, O Lord, +   that we might daily bring honor and glory to Your holy name.   +  All this we ask  in the name and for the sake   +    of Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Savior,   +   Who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit,   +   One God, for ever and ever.  +  Amen.

after which the Congregation  may be seated

We Hear God’s Word


The Children’s Lesson                                                                                                                       I John 3:1

See the kind of love the Father has given us that we should be called children of God, and that is what we are! The world does not know us, because it did not know him.

God Will NEVER Stop Loving You….Ever !!!!


The Old Testament Lesson                                                                                     Lamentations 3:1-8, 17-32

I am the man who has experienced affliction under the rod of his fury.  2 He drove me off and brought me into darkness instead of light. 3 See how he turns against me. He turns his hand against me all day long.  4 He wore out my flesh and my skin. He shattered my bones. 5 He built siege works against me. He surrounded me with bitterness

and hardship.   6 He made me dwell in dark places, like people who died long ago.   7 He walled me in, so I cannot leave. He made my chains heavy.    8 Even when I call and cry out, he shuts out my prayer.

…..17 You deprived my soul of peace. I have forgotten what well-being is.   18 I said, “My endurance has vanished, along with my hope from the Lord.”   19 Remember my affliction and my homeless wandering, the wormwood and bitterness.   20 My soul always remembers, and it has sunk within me.   21 Nevertheless, I keep this in my heart. This is the reason I have hope:   22 By the mercies of the Lord we are not consumed, for his compassions do not fail.  23 They are new every morning. Great is your faithfulness.   24 My soul says, “The Lord is my portion. Therefore, I will hope in him.”   25 The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him.   26 It is good to hope quietly for the salvation of the Lord.   27 It is good for a man that he bears a yoke early in his life.   28 Let him sit alone and be silent, because the Lord has laid this upon him.   29 Let him stick his face in the dust. Perhaps there still is hope.   30 Let him turn his cheek toward the one who strikes him. Let him be filled with disgrace.   31 For the Lord will not push us away forever.  32 Even though he brings grief, he will show compassion on the basis of his great mercy.

The Epistle Lesson                                                                                                                  Romans 8:18-39

18 For I conclude that our sufferings at the present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is going to be revealed to us. 19 In fact, creation is waiting with eager longing for the sons of God to be revealed. 20 For creation was subjected to futility, not by its own will, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in the hope 21 that even creation itself will be set free from slavery to corruption, in order to share in the glorious freedom of the children of God.

22 For we know that all of creation is groaning with birth pains right up to the present time. 23 And not only creation, but also we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly while we eagerly await our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body. 24 Indeed, it was for this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is not hope, because who hopes for what he already sees? 25 But if we hope for something we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with patient endurance.

26 In the same way the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we should pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that are not expressed in words. 27 And he who searches our hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints, according to God’s will.

28 We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God, for those who are called according to his purpose, 29 because those God foreknew, he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, so that he would be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those he predestined, he also called. Those he called, he also justified. And those he justified, he also glorified.

31 What then will we say about these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 Indeed, he who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also graciously give us all things along with him?

33 Who will bring an accusation against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies! 34 Who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus,[g] who died and, more than that, was raised to life, is the one who is at God’s right hand and who is also interceding for us! 35 What will separate us from the love of Christ? Will trouble or distress or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 Just as it is written:

For your sake we are being put to death all day long.   We are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.

37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.   38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor rulers, neither things present nor things to come, nor powerful forces, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

After which the Congregation will rise for

The Gospel Lesson                                                                                                                     Luke 15:11-32


11 Jesus said, “A certain man had two sons. 12 The younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them. 13 Not many days later, the younger son gathered together all that he had and traveled to a distant country. There he wasted his wealth with reckless living. 14 After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that country, and he began to be in need. 15 He went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed pigs. 16 He would have liked to fill his stomach with the carob pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.

17 “When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have more than enough bread, and I am dying from hunger! 18 I will get up, go to my father, and tell him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Make me like one of your hired servants.”’

20 “He got up and went to his father. While he was still far away, his father saw him and was filled with compassion. He ran, hugged his son, and kissed him. 21 The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’

22 “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick, bring out the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let us eat and celebrate, 24 because this son of mine was dead and is alive again. He was lost and is found.’ Then they began to celebrate.

25 “His older son was in the field. As he approached the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 He called one of the servants and asked what was going on. 27 The servant told him, ‘Your brother is here! Your father killed the fattened calf, because he has received him back safe and sound.’ 28 The older brother was angry and refused to go in. His father came out and began to plead with him.

29 “He answered his father, ‘Look, these many years I’ve been serving you, and I never disobeyed your command, but you never gave me even a young goat so that I could celebrate with my friends. 30 But when this son of yours arrived after wasting your property with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him!’

31 “The father said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that I have is yours. 32 But it was fitting to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again. He was lost and is found.’”



The Apostles’ Creed

I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth.  And in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord;   Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost;   Born of the Virgin Mary;  Suffered under Pontius Pilate;   Was crucified, dead and buried;   He descended into hell;   The third day He rose again from the dead;   He ascended into heaven And sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty;   From thence He shall come to judge the quick and the dead.  I believe in the Holy Ghost;   The Holy Christian Church, the Communion of Saints;  The forgiveness of sins;   The resurrection of the body;    And the life everlasting.  Amen.


after which the Congregation will be seated for


Hymn of the Day                                                                                   Hymn 424   “O God Forsake Me Not”


1 O God, forsake me not!   Your gracious presence lend me;

Lord, lead your helpless child;   Your Holy Spirit send me

That I my course may run.   Oh, be my light, my lot,

My staff, my rock, my shield –   O God, forsake me not!

2 O God, forsake me not!   Take not your Spirit from me;

Do not permit the might   Of sin to overcome me.

Increase my feeble faith,   Which you alone have wrought.

Oh, be my strength and pow’r –   O God, forsake me not!

3 O God, forsake me not!    Lord, hear my supplication!

In ev’ry evil hour    Help me o’ercome temptation;

And when the prince of hell    My conscience seeks to blot,

Be then not far from me –   O God, forsake me not!

4 O God, forsake me not!   Lord, I am yours forever.

Oh, keep me strong in faith    That I may leave you never.

Grant me a blessed end    When my good fight is fought;

Help me in life and death –   O God, forsake me not!


after which the Congregation will rise for

The Pre-Sermon Salutation


Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus Christ, our Lord!  Amen.



The Sermon Text                                                                                                                         Luke 15:11-32


The Story of the Loving Father


afterward the Congregation will REMAIN SEATED

The Post-Sermon Blessing


May our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and God our Father, Who loved us and by His grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.  Amen.

We Offer Our Gifts to the Lord

Our Offerings of Love to our Lord


Offerings will be received this morning through offering plates passed among those who have gathered here for worship.      However, for those viewing this service online,  we offer you the following suggestions for providing God with Your thank-offerings through our ministry:     

1) You can mail a check (no cash) to the church address    (415 N. 6th Place, Lowell, AR 72745)

2) You can donate on our website:  www.gracelutherannwa.com


the Congregation will please rise as the offerings are brought to the altar

We Offer Our Prayers to the Lord


Today’s Special Prayers


Included in our prayers this morning are:

Prayers of Thanksgiving and Intercession

for Tim Pfortmiller who is recovering from surgery this past Friday;


for Brenda Bontke who is recovering from a severe auto accident and surgery this past week;


A Special Prayer praising God for suddenly taking our sister in Christ, Cindy Ryskey, home to heaven this past Sunday afternoon, and also asking our Lord to support & strengthen our brother, Rudy, as he deals with his loss;

and also

A Prayer of Thanksgiving on behalf of Christine and Pat Quinlan

who are celebrating their wedding anniversary this Wednesday.


The Lord’s Prayer


Our Father, Who art in heaven, Hallowed be Thy name;   Thy Kingdom come;  Thy will be done    on earth as it is in heaven;    Give us this day our daily bread;    And forgive us our trespasses,    as we forgive those who trespass against us;     And lead us not into temptation;     But deliver us from evil;  For Thine is the kingdom,  and the power,  and the glory,   forever and ever.  Amen.



We Leave With The Lord’s Blessing


The Benediction


P:         Brothers and sisters, go in peace.   Live in harmony with one another.   Serve the Lord in gladness.

The Lord bless you and keep you

The Lord make His face to shine upon you and be gracious unto you.

The Lord look upon you with favor, and grant you His peace.   


C:         (sung)              Amen.   Amen.  Amen.



The Closing Hymn                                                                          Hymn 426  “Yours Forever, God of Love”


1 Yours forever, God of love!  Hear us from your throne above;

Yours forever may we be    Here and in eternity!


2 Yours forever, oh, how blest   They who find in you their rest!

Savior, Guardian, heav’nly Friend,   Oh, defend us to the end.


3 Yours forever, Lord of life!   Shield us through our earthly strife.

You, the Life, the Truth, the Way,    Guide us to the realms of day.


4 Yours forever! Shepherd, keep    All your weak and trembling sheep

Safely in your tender care;    Let us all your goodness share.


5 Yours forever! You our guide,    All our needs by you supplied,

All our sins by you forgiv’n,   Lead us, Lord, from earth to heav’n.


Silent Prayer, Announcements

Post-Worship Music




Last week at Grace                                                                           Worship Attendance: 65 (56 communed)

Bible Class: 23       Sunday School: 4        Tuesday Bible Class: 10    Wednesday Bible Classes…..Men: 4;    Women:   5

Budgetary Fund: $4485.90    Online Offerings: $110   Capital Improvement: $50        Darrell Anderson memorial: $100

This Coming Week at Grace Lutheran Church

Today              Morning Worship, 9:30 a.m.     Fellowship, 10:45 a.m.     Sunday School/Bible Class – 11:05 a.m.    

Tuesday          Bible Class……10:30 a.m.                                  Church Council Meeting, 6 p.m.            

Wednesday    Bible Classes (Men and Women) 6 p.m.

Saturday         Outreach Calls, 10 a.m.

Sunday           Morning Worship with the Lord’s Supper, 9:30 a.m.                         Fellowship Period, 10:50 p.m.        

                        Bible Class & Sunday School, 11:05 a.m.

This Week’s Birthdays & Anniversary       October 09 – Laura Layton;         October 12 – Debbie Huebner     

October 12 – Christine and Pat Quinlan;     October 13 – Charles Huebner;

Serving Us Next Sunday (10-16)                                                                                                                      

Ushers:     Terry Bruns, Tom Otto, Tim Huebner

Elders:  Tim Pfortmiller and Steve Stone          Fellowship: Mary Karloski

Altar Guild:  Harriet Johnson, Jill Calkins

Beware Of the “Super-Apostles” – Part One

II Corinthians 11:1-15

In chapter eleven, the Apostle expresses his opposition to those false apostles who were working very hard to diminish his influence and reputation for faithfulness and integrity among the Corinthians.  Unfortunately, they already had been quite successful.   First Paul apologizes for having to speak positively about himself, and he gives his reasons for doing so.   Afterward, he declares that he is equal to the other apostles in authority and faithfulness, and that his integrity exceeded that of the false apostles – particularly because he came to Corinth offering the Gospel freely, without wages.   Later on, Paul further justifies his ministry and his character.  Finally, he speaks about his qualifications as an apostle, as well as his work and sufferings, in all of which he surpassed those false apostles.

  1. Paul’s jealousy for the Corinthians (1-2)

11:1   “Be patient with me in regard to a little foolishness.” – In the latter part of chapter 10, Paul had talked about the foolishness of boasting and self-commendation.   As a general rule, commending oneself is never a good thing.   Most of the time people who do this are motivated by sinful pride.   But Paul believed it was necessary, both for the Corinthians’ sake and for the credibility of the Gospel he preached, that he established his apostolic credentials as genuine.   So the “foolishness” he mentions here is Paul’s way of explaining to the Corinthians that he was compelled to commend himself to them, while – at the same time – he condemned prideful boasting.   In the case of his verse, we need to point out that Paul’s motives were godly.   His focus wasn’t on himself, but on the Gospel that Christ had given him and the souls of the Corinthians, which the Lord had entrusted to his care.

11:2   “I am jealous about you, with a godly jealousy”  

*          Is jealousy good or bad?   

*          Is there ever a time when being jealous might be appropriate for a Christian?  If so, under what circumstances?

*          What motivated Paul’s jealous feelings for the Corinthians?

First, let’s consider James’ inspired remarks regarding jealousy:   James 3:14-15 – “But if you have bitter envy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not boast and lie, contrary to the truth.  This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is worldly, unspiritual, and demonic.”   James says that worldly jealousy is characteristically “bitter” and “selfish.” It often arises as the product of making sinful comparisons (2 Corinthians 10:12).   He even says that it is “demonic” and that worldly jealousy causes people to lie, cheat, steal, commit adultery, and murder.    Here’s a brief definition of worldly/sinful jealousy:    “Wrongly, selfishly desiring something that does not belong to you, because God has given it to someone else.”

In contrast, there is a “divine” or “righteous” jealousy.   This type of jealousy is justifiable.    The Scriptures in many places describe God Himself as being “jealous” for His people (e.g., Exodus 20:5).   God is jealous when His people forsake the true worship of Him in order to sin by serving idols instead.   He wants them to give Him their whole-hearted devotion (Matthew 22:37).   Let’s take, as an example, a married couple where the wife is unfaithful, and the husband’s attitude is:  “it doesn’t matter, I don’t care.”   What would we think of someone like him?   A godly man would want his wife to be faithful because that makes for a healthy marriage, and especially it honors God.   So a husband should be jealous when his wife inappropriately gives something of herself to others that should be reserved only for her husband.  And, of course, every wife should feel the same righteous jealousy regarding her husband’s faithfulness to her.

11:2     “I promised to present you as a pure virgin to one Husband, Christ.”  – Two points: 1) There is one,

and only one person to Whom the Corinthians owe their allegiance:   the Lord Jesus Christ;   and 2) Paul had solemnly promised the Lord that he would be His agent to bring souls into His kingdom….and Paul was not about to break that promise.   (Compare [and contrast?] that to the baptismal and confirmation vows we make….and the oaths that public ministers take at their ordinations and installations.)

Paul was jealous for the souls of the Corinthians.   His desire and commitment was that they would have a healthy relationship with God.   But false teachers had injected themselves into the congregation in order to steal  the Corinthians hearts, effectively ripping them from their marriage to Christ.   However, Paul didn’t say, “I don’t care.” He cared deeply.   It hurt him when he saw them turning from the Lord to the lies of the false apostles.  And so he was justifiably jealous for their souls with a jealousy motivated by Christian love.

God wants us also to care for the Spiritual well-being of others.   When we care for the souls of people in the way that Paul did, it will motivate us to pray for them, share God’s Word with them, encourage them, and even correct them when necessary.

  1. False “super-apostles” attempted to deceive the Corinthians (3-6)

11:3    “I am afraid….your minds will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ.”      Paul was concerned that the Corinthians would remain deceived.   Here again we get a glimpse of Paul’s heart.   He was zealous to see them grow in their faith.   But he was deeply concerned that the false apostles would deceive them and damage – perhaps, even destroy – their faith, and with it their salvation.

11:3   “Just as the serpent deceived Eve with his cunning”      Satan and his evil allies are cunning.   Their attacks, temptations, and false teachings are well thought out, and are carefully designed to get past our Spiritual defenses and target our weaknesses.   When a wise general takes his army to lay siege to a castle, he first performs reconnaissance.   After studying the situation, he comes up with a battle plan.   It might involved digging tunnels, using decoys, staging a stealth attack, employing camouflage, or any one of a number of other methods.   Whatever method he uses, it has to be carefully designed in order to get past the enemy’s defenses.   Satan is no slouch when it comes to assaulting our souls.  He’s cunning.   His attacks and methods have been well-developed over human history through trial, error, and adjustment.  

*          How did the Corinthians react to the false teaching?   How should they have reacted?

*          What methods do the enemies of God’s truth use to mislead people today?  

*          How can you build up better Spiritual defenses for yourself in order to make sure that you aren’t swayed by Satan’s (or the world’s, or your sinful nature’s) deceptions?

11:4    “If someone comes and preaches another Jesus……a different gospel….you put up with it all too well”    Paul was deeply disappointed that the Corinthians so “readily” accepted the false apostles’ teachings ……which were radically different from the truth that He had taught them.

*          When you hear/read a Biblical teaching that seems a bit strange, what are some things that you should do?

Of course there is only one Jesus, one Gospel, one Word of God.  On the other hand, there are all kinds of religious lies that are told and believed…..nearly all under the guise of “faithful Christian belief.”   Real , authentic currency is uniform and consistent.   But there is also counterfeit currency, some of which is awfully close in appearance to that which is authentic.   An expert in currency can always distingue, however, between authentic and counterfeit.   God wants us to be “experts” when it comes to His Word and the truths contained in it.   The better acquainted you and I are with the truths of Scripture, the easier it will be for us to recognize (and reject) the deceptive doctrines to which too many today succumb.

Consequently, if we’re going to be and remain faithful, we must study God’s Word consistently and aggressively…..all the while recognizing that learning what God teaches us in His Word won’t come quickly.   We need to be committed to spending a considerable amount of time to our personal and group study of Scripture.    In fact, no matter how much we learn, there’s always more to learn…and to recommit to our memory (when we forget, which happens….).    Over time your defense system against false teachers and their lies will grow stronger and stronger….both for your benefit and for the benefit of others.

11:5     “Super-apostles” – Paul sarcastically refers to the false teachers who were afflicting the Corinthians (and attacking him) as “super-apostles.”    And to hear them talk, they probably thought of themselves as super-apostles.   Skilled in the art of self-commendation, they had a dangerously inflated view of themselves.    But Paul saw through their lofty words and arrogant actions.   He knew that he was not “inferior” to them at all.    Maybe they were better at making smooth speeches (don’t false teachers always seem to be gifted speakers?).    But in the things that mattered most – faithfulness to God’s truth — he was not inferior to them…..he excelled beyond them, because he was an authentic apostle and they were frauds.

11:6.    “I am not an amateur in knowledge”  – Here in verse 6 we learn about what is really important to look for in a Bible teacher or pastor.  What is that?

III. Paul’s sacrifices for the Corinthians (7-12)

11:7   “Did I commit a sin by humbling myself, so that you would be exalted”  – Here was Paul’s method of ministry among the Corinthians…….He was humble among them.    But now Paul has to spend time in an ostensibly non-humble way:   defending himself against the attacks of the false teachers.   

11:7   “I preached the Gospel to you free of charge”  – Apparently those super-apostles slandered him by intimating that he was taking (or was setting them up to take) advantage of them financially.   (Of course, they were the ones who were actually manipulating and taking advantage of the Corinthians.)    Paul reminds the Corinthians that when he preached the gospel to them he did so “free of charge.”  In the book of Acts and some of his letters, we learn that, with rare exception, Paul supported himself by making tents, rather than by expecting – or even accepting – financial support from the congregations he served.   Obviously, then, Paul didn’t receive any financial support from the church at Corinth.

11:8.    “I robbed other churches, by receiving support from them to minister to you”   – In addition to “making tents”, Paul says he “robbed other churches” in order to serve the Corinthians. The words he uses here can be easily misconstrued.   Lest there be any confusion, Paul didn’t actually steal any money from some of the churches he served!   Rather, those churches gratefully and willingly gave him their financial support so that he could bring the Gospel to others….just as he had brought it to them.  Still, the “hyperbole” (exaggeration for dramatic effect) helped Paul drive home his point in a way that the Corinthians wouldn’t forget.   Any money Paul received while serving the Corinthians came from other congregations which supported his ministry of the Gospel.  

11:9   “In every way I kept myself from being a burden to you”   – Whether he received support from others or earned his own way by tent making, Paul never wanted to be a burden to anyone he served.  Why was this Paul’s approach, and what can we learn from it?

11:11   “God knows I do [love you] – No matter what else the Corinthians could say or believe critically

about him, God knew – and they should too – that Paul loved them….specifically, he loved their eternal souls.   

11:12   “But what I am doing….is being done to cut off the opportunity of those who….want to be

considered equal to us”    When everything was said and done, and all the evidence was in, there was absolutely no evidence to support the attacks of the false teachers had made against Paul.   He wanted to make that abundantly clear.

  1. Satan and his servants are masters in deceit (13-15)

11:13   “In fact, such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, masquerading as apostles of Christ.”  – Paul called these people what they were:   wolves in sheeps’ clothing (Matthew 7:15).    A shepherd doesn’t look at a wolf in the flock and say, “Oh, look. There is a soft, furry creature exercising his muscles in the flock.” He says, “A wolf is about to attack my flock!” 

*          What tactics did the false apostles use in their efforts to undermine Paul and to steal the hearts (and souls of the Corinthians?

*          Why is deceit often an effective strategy to persuade others and secure their support/agreement?

*          Agree or disagree:     In some churches people are far too tolerant of false teaching.

Listen to these words of Ezekiel 33:7 – “But I have appointed you, son of man, to be a watchman for the house of Israel.  So wherever you hear a word from My mouth, you are to warn them from Me.”   – Every flock/congregation needs a faithful watchman.   Actually, we all should be watchmen, Spiritually-speaking.    Your eyes and mine should be open continually, and our minds should be Biblically discerning.    If false teachers arrive…..if we’re confronted by false teaching…..then we should call them out promptly

11:14   “For Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light”     Satan doesn’t come into the church and announce himself, “I am Satan. I’m here to steal your souls.   So, worship me now.”   No one would listen….I hope.    That method would not even work on most unbelievers.    I’d like to think that even they would realize listening to and worshiping Satan are not good things to do.   Of course, Satan’s methods are much more advanced than that, aren’t they?   He’s subtle, sneaky, cunning, and deceptive.   Jesus called him “the father of lies” (John 8:44) and said that when Satan speaks lies, he’s speaking his “native language.”   The Devil wants us to believe that he has our best interests at heart.   He wants us to think that his ideas are better for us than God’s and that his ways really will bring us true happiness.

Satan is so cunning that he adapts his attacks to different targets.   When attacking the church, one of his favorite methods is camouflage.  His servants blend in, pretending to be faithful servants of God.   After gaining the trust of unsuspecting souls, they spread their insidious teachings.   These teachings all sound good – and are often packaged with persuasive words like tolerance, unity, freedom, happiness, etc.  

As the “master salesmen” that they are, Satan and his agents make big promises,  But he and his henchmen are peddling nothing but lies.   The “wonderful products” they have to offer are always inferior…”fools’ gold” instead of the heavenly treasure that only God can give us.

In his inaugural attempt to capture human souls, Satan was able to convince Eve and Adam that God was withholding something good from them.   If only they would be “wise enough” to sample that forbidden fruit, they would acquire unsurpassed knowledge that would make them God’s equals, and they would  experience true contentment.   It all sounded so good.   But everything Satan said was a lie…..it always is!

*          What can we learn about Satan from this portion of Scripture?

*          If Satan is the most evil being in the universe, how is it possible for him to appear as an angel of light?

*          Knowing that Satan is a master of deception, how can believers like you and me guard ourselves from his deceptions and become more Spiritually discerning?

11:15   “So it is no great surprise if his ministers also masquerade as ministers of righteousness.   Their end will match their works.“  – Like father, like son…… Satan’s spiritual children (the false teachers) behave just like he does.   They pretend to be serving God, but are motivated by their own selfish, damnable desires (2 Peter 2:10-22).   Such people will be judged by God.  But until that happens on the Last Day, our duty to avoid the, expose them, and oppose them.

*          Please share an example of a time when you were either Spiritually deceived or almost deceived by a false teacher?   

*          What did you learn from that experience?

*          What ultimately will happen to Satan as well as his allies and agents?