Sermon Prepared by James McCullen
Email Preach Him with Dr. Jim

An Out Of Body Experience
       2 Cor. 12:1-10  NASB

1 Boasting is necessary, though it is not profitable; but I will go on to visions and revelations of the Lord.  2 I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago-- whether in the body I do not know, or out of the body I do not know, God knows-- such a man was caught up to the third heaven. 3 And I know how such a man-- whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, God knows--
4 was caught up into Paradise, and heard inexpressible words, which a man is not permitted to speak. 5 On behalf of such a man will I boast; but on my own behalf I will not boast, except in regard to {my} weaknesses.  6 For if I do wish to boast I shall not be foolish, for I shall be speaking the truth; but I refrain {from this,} so that no one may credit me with more than he sees {in} me or hears from me.
7 And 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 buffet me-- to keep me from exalting myself!  8 Concerning this I entreated the Lord three times that it might depart from me.  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, that the power of Christ may dwell in me.  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.

INTRODUCTION
On two occasions people have told me about an out of body experience. They learned about God and themselves through such an experience. Paul had such an experience. He learned about himself and God through this experience.

Paul received a thorn in his flesh because of this experience. The thorn was:  Permitted, Persistent, and it was Profitable.

Let us look further at this out of body experience.

1. Boastings . . . . from an out of body experience.

    2. Visions . . . . . from an out of body experience.

        3. Revelations . . from an out of body experience.

            4. Contentment . . from an out of body experience.
 

1.    Boastings . . from an out of Body Experience.   v 1, 5-6, 9 b

    A. Statements . . concerning Boasting. v 1
       Boasting is necessary, though it is not profitable; but I will go on to visions and revelations of the Lord.

    B.    Stipulation . . concerning Boasting. v 5
       On behalf of such a man will I boast; but on my own behalf I will not boast, except in regard to {my} weaknesses.

    C.    Sanity . . concerning Boasting. v 6
        v 6 For if I do wish to boast I shall not be foolish, for I shall be speaking the truth; but I refrain {from this,} so that no one may
        credit me with more than he sees {in} me or hears from me.

    D.    Satisfaction . . concerning Boasting. v 9 b
        v 9 b Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may dwell in me.

ILLUSTRATION
When an English labor leader was elected to Parliament, he proudly took his daughter to see the great buildings where he would help make England's laws. The little girl was silent until he asked her, "What do you think?" She said, "Daddy, you look so big in the kitchen at home, but you look small in this great big room."

ILLUSTRATION
Conceit is a weird disease— it makes everybody sick except the guy who has it.

Or like the mother whale told her baby, "When you get to the surface and start to blow, that's when
you get harpooned!" James C. Dobson (1936– )
 

APPLICATION

        Boastings . . from an out of body experience.
 

2.    Visions . . from an out of Body Experience. v 1 b -4

    A.    Statements . . concerning Visions.
            v 1 ". . . but I will go on to visions . . .

    B.    Specifics . . concerning Visions. v 2-4
            2. I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago-- whether in the body I do not know, or out of the body I do not know, God
            knows-- such a man was caught up to the third heaven. 3 And I know how such a man-- whether in the body or apart from the
            body I do not know, God knows-- 4 was caught up into Paradise, and heard inexpress-ible words, which a man is not permitted
            to speak.

        2 Cor. 12:2 & 4 Caught away

        726 harpazo- 1) to seize, to carry off by force
        1Thess. 4:17 Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and
        thus we shall always be with the Lord. (NAS)

        It is unlikely that Paul alludes to the idea of seven heavens held by some Jews . . . He seems to mean the highest heaven where
        God is (Plummer).

ILLUSTRATION
From the Westminster Teacher I gleaned this story of an artist's daughter who lost her eyesight when she was a baby. After her mother died, the girl's father became her constant and affectionate companion.

For years her blindness was considered incurable. Then a new type of surgery promised to restore her vision. Following the operation, as she lay in a darkened room with bandaged eyes, this one thought occupied her mind: Soon I shall see my dear father! When the days of waiting had passed, the dressings were removed, and at last she looked into the compassionate face she had so long
desired to see.

Trembling with excitement, she closed her eyes, and then opened them again to convince herself she was not dreaming. As the one she loved took her into his arms, she exclaimed, "I've had such a good-looking father all these years and didn't even know it!"
 

APPLICATION

Visions . . . . . from an out of body experience.
 
 

3.    Revelations . . from an out of Body Experience. v 7-9

    A.    Revelation . . from the Greatness. v 7 a
            ". . . the surpassing greatness of the revelations,. . . "

v 4. was caught up into Paradise, and heard inexpressible words, which a man is not permitted to speak.
 

    B.    Revelation . . from the Thorn. v 7 b
            ". . . there was given me a thorn in the flesh,.a messenger of Satan to buffet me-- to keep me from exalting myself!

        1.    A messenger of Satan.
                a. The thorn was
                    1) Permitted,
                    2) Persistent,
                    3) Profitable.
            b. A Besetting Thorn.

                A.T.Robertson says:      Certainly it was some physical malady that persisted. All sorts of theories are held. It is a blessing to
                                                  the  rest of us that we do not know the affliction that so beset Paul.
            c. A Buffeting Thorn.

                ATR ". . . rare word from, fist. The messenger of Satan kept slapping Paul in the face and Paul now sees that it was God's
                                will for it to be so.

    C.    Revelation . . from the Three prayers. v 8
            v 8 Concerning this I entreated the Lord three times that it might depart from me.

        1.    Depart. ATR "that he stand off from me for good."

    D.    Revelation . . from the Grace. v 9
            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, that the power of Christ may dwell in me.

        1.    The . . Sufficiency of Grace.

            ATR ." Slowly Paul had learned this supreme lesson, but it will never leave him

        2.    The . .Shelter of Grace.

            ATR ". . . to fix a tent upon, . . . Paul himself . . . "

ILLUSTRATION TOPIC: God INDEX: 1445 DATE: 9/1991.30
One day famed British preacher Charles Surgeon was riding home after a hard day's work, feeling tired and depressed. Suddenly the phrase "My grace is sufficient for you" entered his mind.  He then thought of the tiny fish who might be afraid lest they drink the river dry, but who hear the reassuring word, "Drink up little fish, my stream is sufficient for you." Spurgeon also thought of a mountain climber fearing lest he exhaust all of the thin oxygen in the atmosphere being reassured, "Breathe away young man and fill your lungs, for my atmosphere is sufficient for you." Spurgeon said that for the first time, "I experienced the joy that Abraham felt when he rejoiced in God's provision."  It's true. No matter how great our need might be, God's overcoming power far outweighs it. Moody, 4-20-91
 

APPLICATION
    Revelations . . from an out of body experience.
 
 

4.    Contentment . . from an out of Body Experience. v 10
        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.

    A.    The Range . . of his contentment. v 10 a
        "Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties,. . . "
        1. Insults.
        2. Distresses.
        3. Persecutions.
        4. Difficulties.

        ATR.    The enemies of Paul will have a hard time now in making Paul unhappy by persecutions even unto death (Php 1:20-26).
                    He is not courting martyrdom, but he does not fear it or anything that is "for Christ's sake"

    B.    The Reason . . of his contentment. v 10 b
            ". . . for Christ's sake;  for when I am weak, then I am strong."

            1. For Christ' sake.

ILLUSTRATION
A reporter asked the late President Herbert Hoover, "Mr. President, how do you handle criticism?  Do you ever get agitated or tense?" "No," President Hoover said, seemingly surprised at the question, "of course not." "But," the reporter went on, "when I was a boy you were one of the most popular men in the world. Then, for a while you became one of the most unpopular, with nearly everyone against you. Didn't any of this meanness and criticism every get under your skin?"  "No, I knew when I went into politics what I might expect, so when it came I wasn't disappointed or upset," he said. He lowered his familiar bushy eyebrows and looked directly into the reporter's
eyes. "Besides, I have 'peace at the center,' you know," he added. Inner peace comes from looking to God, our source. Peace is the gift of Jesus Christ. Jesus, before leaving His disciples, said, "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you". (John 14:27)
 

APPLICATION

        1. Boastings . . . . from an out of Body Experience.

        2. Visions . . . . . from an out of Body Experience.

        3. Revelations . . from an out of Body Experience.

        4. Contentment . . from an out of Body Experience.