Calvary Road Baptist Church


Second Corinthians 5.11-13


Back in 1989 there was a terrible explosion in one of the monstrous 16 inch gun turrets of the old battleship Iowa. Is anyone here old enough to have any memories of the incident?[1] If you are interested in such military history things, you might notice in your research the extent to which the Navy’s findings, and their decision to fix blame for the fatal explosion on the gun captain who was killed, was based on an FBI report. The FBI has a team of psychiatrists and psychologists who specialize in trying to discern the motives of people who commit such crimes. These specialists are used to either try and find out what makes a kidnapper tick so he won’t kill his hostage, or to try and recreate the likely thought patterns of a serial killer. They are called profilers. You have no doubt heard the term. When the Iowa blew up the Navy brought in this team of FBI experts in an effort to justify their shifting of blame away from senior Navy officers’ incompetence and mismanagement so they could blame everything on a dead guy. Did you know the CIA has a team of specialists that do the same thing? We have men and women whose sole job is to put together psychological profiles so they can predict, with some reasonable amount of certainty, how the leader of a foreign government will react under a given set of circumstances.

Too bad the leaders of Argentina did not make use of such data back in the day when they decided to seize control of the Falkland Islands while Margaret Thatcher was Prime Minister of Great Britain. Of course, it was done to shift attention away from Argentina’s ailing economy. Back to Margaret Thatcher. Not only would everyone who had ever known her realize, but the shrinks employed by almost every nation’s intelligence services, could have predicted that the woman known as The Iron Maiden would not let the Argentines get away with their invasion of those tiny British islands. And indeed they did not. Then there was the meeting between the Soviet Union’s Mikhail Gorbachev and the USA’s President Ronald Reagan in Reykjavík, Iceland in 1986. Gorbachev attempted to push Reagan (to in effect bully him) into an arms settlement. The result? Anyone who knew Ronald Reagan or who remembered how he dealt with university campus agitators when he was governor of California could have predicted it. President Reagan stood up, walked out, ordered his Secret Service detail to transport him back to Air Force One, and flew home. Here is another one. Why is our government clueless in its dealings with Vladimir Putin? He is an utterly predictable man, astonishingly aggressive, a complete xenophobe with respect to all things Russian, and a politician who is as ruthless as they come. No one climbs to the top of Russia’s political king of the mountain game by being either stupid or nice. I might say the same thing of China’s leader, Mr. Xi. These men are serious and need to be studied and dealt with in a most serious fashion. Even the military uses these kinds of profiles. The commander of the NATO ground forces in Europe knows who the commander of the opposing forces for Russia happens to be. Is that commander aggressive or reluctant to attack? Is he a risk taker in battle, or is he extremely cautious? You would want to know what your opposite in battle would do. Would you not agree?

The reason governments make up these psychological profiles is because there are times when it is good to know what makes the other guy tick, whether he be friend or foe. The main problem though, as I see it, is that to try and figure out what makes the other guy tick you have to be very judgmental. And the Bible says that judging the motives of another person is very sinful, for a number of reasons.[2] I know that governments simply must do what individuals are forbidden to do. If you aren’t supposed to judge another person’s thoughts and if you aren’t supposed to try and figure out another person’s motivations, how do you know what causes a guy to tick? What makes him do what he does? Governments feel they need these kinds of answers. However, we who are Christians are just going to have to rely on the Bible for that kind of information. I mean, governments or wicked individuals can be sinfully judgmental if they want to be, with all of the built in error that such judging entails due to inadequate information about the other person, or you can rely upon the infallible Word of God.

This morning we are going to rely upon the infallible Word of God to limit our inquiry to that which makes a truly great servant of God tick, what makes for a truly fruitful Christian life, and what really motivates a genuinely dynamic Christian. We will forget for a moment about Putin and Cameron, Obama and Xi. Have you ever wanted to know what makes the wonderfully used child of God do what he does when other Christians goof off? Have you ever wondered what causes a godly missionary to forsake the comforts of Southern California for the dangers of Palestine? Have you thought about why the Christian in Russia or China endures imprisonment and discrimination when he could just as easily lie and say that he didn’t believe in Christ and thereby find relief from persecution?

There are a number of things that God’s Word reveals to us that motivate God’s choice servants. There were a number of things that specifically motivated the Apostle Paul. In this message from God’s Word we’re going to look at just one of Paul’s motives for serving God. As we stand together and read Second Corinthians 5.11-13, I want you to try and see what powerfully motivated the Apostle Paul in his service to and for the Lord Jesus Christ:


11    Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are made manifest unto God; and I trust also are made manifest in your consciences.

12    For we commend not ourselves again unto you, but give you occasion to glory on our behalf, that ye may have somewhat to answer them which glory in appearance, and not in heart.

13    For whether we be beside ourselves, it is to God: or whether we be sober, it is for your cause.


Do you see what it was that was one of Paul’s motives for serving God as diligently and as zealously as he did? It was fear, wasn’t it? See the word “terror” in the first part of verse 11? That word translates the same Greek word from which we get the word “phobia,” which simply means fear. It was a sanctified, healthy fear of Christ that was one motivation for Paul to serve Him the way he did.

In Second Corinthians 5.11-13 the Word of God supplies us with Paul’s own psychological profile, written at his direction under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. And in this profile we are shown what the results are when a spiritual man serves God in response to a healthy and a holy fear of the crucified and risen Savior.

Four things:




Paul begins verse 11 with the words, “Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord we persuade men....”


In John chapter 15 the Lord Jesus Christ told His disciples that He had chosen them for the purpose of glorifying their heavenly Father by bearing fruit. A proper understanding of that passage reveals that the fruit the Lord Jesus Christ was talking about to His disciples was precious souls brought to the Savior. Ephesians 2.10 backs this up with Paul’s own assertion that the person who has trusted Christ as Savior has been “created in Christ Jesus unto good works.” The good works that are referred to in that passage, recognizing what Paul is generally talking about when he refers to “works” in the good sense, is evangelism. And what about the Great Commission of our Lord Jesus Christ in Matthew 28.19-20? The undeniable fact of life for the Christian is that the Captain of our salvation has left us with standing orders to preach the gospel to every creature. Now I ask you, why are so many of God’s children disobedient in their unwillingness to adhere to the wishes of their Lord? One reason is because they do not fear the consequences of disobedience. It’s because they do not know the terror of the Lord.

Understand, now, that this message is not designed to put the fear of God into you. I’ll save that for another time. Perhaps you will just learn that through the trials and experiences of life as you begin to comprehend God’s response to you when you disobey Him. What I want to establish at this point is the truth that Paul’s terror of the Lord produced in his life obedience in this area of persuading men to trust Christ. And until you fear the consequences of not persuading men to trust Christ you probably will not begin to persuade men to trust Christ.




“Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are made manifest unto God; and I trust also are made manifest in your consciences.”


In the first part of verse 11 Paul informs us what the consequence is of his terror of the Lord, his fear of God. He persuaded men. Now, in the second part of this verse he reminds us of something we already know, because it’s happened to each and every one of us at one time or another. Those of you who have been saved for a while will need to think back to your early days as a Christian, for just a moment. Those of you who have been saved for a matter of months will have no difficulty relating to what I am about to describe. Do you remember, as a young Christian, when just about the only thing about your life that appeared to be different since your salvation was the fact that you went to church regularly? Now I want you to remember that first time you sat down to a meal with a mature Christian and you began eating, only to be stopped for prayer. How embarrassing. Or how about the time you were with a mature Christian who started witnessing to an unsaved guy and you just sat there wondering why you didn’t think of doing that.

Folks, Paul knew that his heart motives were visible to God. He knew that God was aware of everything about him. But he also wanted the fact that he feared God to be evident to other Christians. He wanted them to see evidence in the way he lived his life that he knew the terror of the Lord. So he trusted that his fear of God would be obvious enough to others that it would prick their consciences and they would ask themselves, “How come I don’t serve God like that?” Paul didn’t know if everyone who saw him would put two and two together and realize that he was serving God out of a pure and sincere motive, so he simply had to trust that he would be made manifest to their consciences. So then, one of the results of fearing God is obedience in seeking the salvation of the lost, and the other result of fearing God is observation by other people. They will see the effects of your spiritual attitude toward the person of the Lord of glory.




“For we commend not ourselves again unto you, but give you occasion to glory on our behalf, that ye may have somewhat to answer them which glory in appearance, and not in heart.”


When you are serving God openly it won’t be just believers who are sympathetic to your cause who will observe you in action. I’m sure that most of you realize that by now in your Christian life. There are unsaved people all around you who absolutely delight in mocking and ridiculing Christians and Christian service, and as well there are carnal Christians who just make a show of serving God but who have no real heart’s desire to glorify His name. Paul is very careful to point out in this verse that he is not seizing on an opportunity to commend himself to the Corinthians. He was not seeking to brag about his ministry. However, it simply could not be denied that his ministry and the ministries of his coworkers were greatly used of God, even though he and Timothy did not spend time and effort to make their ministry a great show to entertain people.

So when the Corinthian Christians were confronted by unsaved people who mocked and ridiculed men of God as being fakes and frauds who were only interested in self-promotion and high living, Paul suggested that they point to him and say, “What about Paul? Is he promoting himself? Is his ministry just show business, or is the power of God evident?” Or what about the so-called Christians whose ministries are nothing but public relations gimmicks who criticize and ridicule sincere and God-honoring ministries? When that happens, Paul suggests that the Corinthian believers simply point to his ministry. Now, is Paul bragging? No. He just realizes that the fear of God in a man’s life, such as in his own life, gives other Christians occasion to glory.

And what is it to glory? It’s quite simply the rejoicing and the celebrating that a person does when he is excited and delighted at seeing God work in the life of another person. When you fear God and serve Him, He will raise up a cheering section among other Christians. And what should those Christians in that cheering section do when they see God bless the God-fearing man? They should cheer. That’s the third thing that results from the terror of the Lord.




“For whether we be beside ourselves, it is to God: or whether we be sober, it is for your cause.”


I want you to notice the word “beside ourselves” in verse 13. The word literally means to be crazy or to be nuts.[3] And do you see the word “sober?” That word means to be in good shape mentally, to be sane, to be sharp.[4] Here is, essentially, what Paul is saying: There are times when the child of God cannot quite figure out what and why the extremely dedicated Christian does what he does. And sometimes what the truly committed Christian does may look like it is a bit weird. But that’s between him and God. Other times his actions and behavior seems so right and so extremely logical. That’s for your benefit.

But what is it that results in behavior that seems somewhat strange and then results in behavior that seems very logical and proper? It’s a super strong commitment to Christ, that’s what it is. It’s what I have chosen to call obsessive behavior, with the obsession being the overwhelming desire to please God at any cost. Do you have that kind of desire? If not, it’s because you do not know the terror of the Lord. It’s because you do not have a godly fear, a spiritual reverence, a holy caution with regard to the One Who you call Lord.


I’d like for you to think about the fear of God for a moment. I’d like for you to think about whether or not you actually know the terror of the Lord Jesus Christ, or are you one of those Christians who views the Lord of glory as little more than a buddy and a pal, but no one to be feared. And if you aren’t quite sure whether or not you know the terror of the Lord, let’s take a little quiz. Let’s see if the characteristics that surround the life of one who knows the terror of the Lord can be found in your life. Are you ready? Here’s the quiz:

First, do you persuade men? That is, do you attempt to persuade men and women that it is in their best interests to repent of their sins and trust Christ as Lord and Savior? If you know the terror of the Lord you do.

Second, is this observation made by others? Is your fear of God made manifest in the consciences of other believers? If you know the terror of the Lord, chances are some people will be aware of it.

Third, is your life an occasion for others to justify Christianity when scorners condemn Christianity? When someone brings up the name of Jimmy Swaggart or Joel Osteen, is it likely that a believer will bring your name up to show that some who name of Christ really mean business for God? If you know the terror of the Lord you’ll qualify as such a candidate.

Finally, do some people seem to think that you are obsessed with the idea of doing right and pleasing God? Do unsaved relatives think you go overboard with this Christianity stuff? If you know the terror of the Lord there are times when that is just exactly what folks will think about you.

“Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord.” There’s an awful lot implied in that brief phrase. And if there’s an awful lot implied in that phrase for those who know Jesus Christ as Savior, just think of the implications for those who reject the claims of Christ? In short, to know Him is to be saved. To really know Him is to fear Him with a fear that properly motivates a believer to serve Him. To not fear Him is to be foolish, according to the Bible.[5] Think about being on the wrong side from someone who can walk on water, being on the wrong side from someone who can calm the wind and the sea, being on the wrong side of someone who can cleanse the leper, give sight to the blind, heal the lame, and raise the dead.

How smart is it to be on the wrong side from someone who not only forgives sins, but who conquered death Himself, and who will come again to punish those who are on the wrong side from Him? Think you can deal with life yourself? Think you do not need Christ? I will grant that you may not need the Savior if you can walk on water, if you can raise the dead, if you can heal diseases, if you can come back from the dead by means of your own power when you die, and (most importantly) if you can stand before the Great White Throne and persuade the Almighty not to punish you for your sins.

You cannot do any of those things? Then you need Christ? And even when you have Christ, you still need the terror of the Lord to serve Him effectively.

[2] John 7.24; 1 Corinthians 4.1-6

[3] Fritz Rienecker & Cleon Rogers, Linguistic Key To The Greek New Testament, (Grand Rapids, MI: Regency Reference Library, 1980), page 468.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Psalm 36.1; 111.10; Proverbs 9.10; 15.33

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