The God Who Can’t Be Talked About

2012 The Gospel Coalition Women’s Conference

In this 44-minute session from the 2012 TGC Women’s Conference, Jenny Salt explains how to approach boasting through a gospel lens. Jenny serves as the Dean of Students and lecturer at Sydney Missionary & Bible College in Sydney, Australia. She was a contributing writer to the ESV Women's Devotional Bible and three books including Here is Our God.  

2 Corinthians 12:1-10 (ESV)

Paul’s Visions and His Thorn

1I must go on boasting. Though there is nothing to be gained by it, I will go on to visions and revelations of the Lord.2I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows.3And I know that this man was caught up into paradise—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows—4and he heard things that cannot be told, which man may not utter.5On behalf of this man I will boast, but on my own behalf I will not boast, except of my weaknesses—6though if I should wish to boast, I would not be a fool, for I would be speaking the truth; but I refrain from it, so that no one may think more of me than he sees in me or hears from me.7So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited.8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me.9But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Scripture quotations marked (ESV) are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Jenny said that the gospel shapes our boasting by:
  1. Stopping us from boasting about things that make us look great. (vv. 1–6)
  2. Causing us to boast of our weakness. (vv. 7–12) 

What gifts, accomplishments, possessions, roles, or virtues might make you look great to others? When are you most tempted to boast in them, and why?
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Who have you known who has done or seen "great" things, but refrains from boasting? What does he or she boast in instead? What does this communicate to the world about the gospel?
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Paul was given a thorn to keep him from conceit. What might be your thorn? How does it protect you from self-glory? How have you experienced the sufficient grace and power of God in your thorn?
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Jenny said, “This is the gospel: power in weakness...When we feel most weak, these are opportunities to understand in greater measure the love, the grace, the strength of the Lord Jesus Christ. Why is that? In our weakness, it is there that we are driven to depend on God alone."

What things that you do not want people to know about you? How have those weaknesses driven you to depend on God?
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Lord, may we see less of ourselves and more of you. May we believe that we bring nothing to the table, and that you bring everything. May we delight in our weakness that you may be glorified. Amen.  

To learn more about The Gospel Coalition Women’s Conference and how you can attend the next event, click here