God has blessed me with nine different opportunities to serve in Brazil. Even though these were all short-term expeditions, they’ve deeply encouraged me and stretched my faith. In 2003, I was invited by Russ & Diane Dean to be their intern for three months. This was an invaluable experience for me and my future as a minister of the gospel.
While serving that summer, we encountered some resistance in certain regions of the city. This was the most tangible spiritual warfare I had ever experienced: witchcraft, devil worship, weird forms of syncretism, and more. One evening, we set out to minister at public schools. We had a team with us from Virginia that was prepared to do music, gymnastics, and a variety of dramas to present the gospel. We saw people walking around the school yard doing “enchantments” against us. The entire evening felt like there was a dark oppression over it. It all came to a head when we got back on the bus to return to Haven of Hope. A local gang member and his crew came toward the bus and asked for access onto it. Our bus driver, Carlos, refused to let him on. The young man started flashing his gun at the driver. Russ & Carlos tried to talk him out of trying to rob us but he simply would not listen.
Carlos, being a former gang member himself, knew the lifestyle, slang, and hatred of this young man. He grabbed the broomstick off of the bus and repeatedly jabbed it into the gang member’s chest, telling him he would not let him on the bus. He was willing to protect it at all costs. His job was to take care of us and he was willing to do it. The young man was caught off guard. He never expected this much of a struggle. He was shaken up and upset. Carlos didn’t let him take one step further and he backed off. We left safely. We were saved from much turmoil that evening because our driver was willing to do the hard work to protect us.
In a spiritual sense, that’s an illustration to what’s going on in 2 Corinthians 11. Paul was fighting for the Corinthians. They were on his bus. But there were outside influences that wanted to ruin them. Satan was clearly one of those, but so were the so called “super apostles”. Paul uses sarcasm to challenge the Corinthian believers to realize that they were being duped by false teachers and false gospels, similarly to how he challenged the Galatian church as well. His plea is simple: don’t be so easily fooled. Someone was trying to take away what was most important to them — their understanding of Jesus. Paul wouldn’t entertain this for a second. He said:
For if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus than the one we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or if you accept a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it readily enough. Indeed, I consider that I am not in the least inferior to these super-apostles. Even if I am unskilled in speaking, I am not so in knowledge; indeed, in every way we have made this plain to you in all things. (2 Corinthians 11:4-6 ESV)
Paul fought for the orthodoxy (right doctrine) AND orthopraxy (right practices) of the church. He wouldn’t let the false teachers come in and ravage those who were under his care. He made sure that, through his two letters, they would know right doctrine and right practice for their lives. He did all he could to protect them. Allegorically speaking, he was standing in front of the bus with a broomstick. The false teachers were simply not allowed on.
Just a cool FYI: the young man I spoke of earlier — he was so convicted by what he was doing that night that he wanted to talk to Russ after he found out he was a pastor. Russ bought him a sandwich and led him to Christ.
Quick Application Thoughts:
1) Are you in the Word enough to discern when you hear false teachings?
2) Are you teaching your family the Word so as to guard them from false teachings?
3) Are you showing those whom you disciple how to study the Word well so that they can be self-feeders who can protect themselves from false teachers?
4) Do you bounce every belief you have off of the truths of the Bible to make sure they are accurate?
5) Is your life more aligned to God’s Word today than it was yesterday?
By: Todd Thomas — Worship & College Pastor