Sermon Audio & Review
Pastor Tim Potter
- Category: 2 Corinthians
- April 18, 2021
God’s Grace Maintains Human Relationships in the Local Church.
Healthy relationships are vital for the progress of the Gospel. Christian relationships in the church are founded and grown by grace. 2 Corinthians 7 is a practical chapter about how we get along in the church. We don’t get along without the supernatural work of grace – a personal relationship with Christ and growing in Christ-likeness.
Christians who struggle in relationships with their Christian family have either misunderstood God’s grace or decided to set God’s grace aside. When severed, Christian relationships are always given a path to restoration through grace. The same grace that brought us back into right relationship with God keeps us in right relationship with each other. Two factors severed Paul’s relationship with the Corinthians: their sinful behavior and the religious unbelief that had infiltrated the church. Unconfessed sin and the seeds of unbelief will upend meaningful relationships in Christ.
The Foundation of Quality Relationships in the Church (2 Corinthians 7:2)
In this verse, Paul gives a command. Relationship restoration is not optional, because God’s grace is always active in a believer’s heart. It gives no room for an offended person, whether falsely or truly wounded, to shut others out. Only God’s grace can repair a seemingly irreparable relationship, and it must.
The foundation of Paul’s relationship with the Corinthians was a message and method of grace (1 Corinthians 2:1-5). He asserts that the charges against him were groundless. He remained consistent because the Gospel of grace demands it.
The Fervor of Quality Relationships in the Church (2 Corinthians 7:3-4)
These verses show how grace causes us to treat believers who have been saved and transformed by the same grace that changed us. No one can or should be condemned when they have been set free by grace in Christ. Any relationship in Christ is maintained by prayer and the Word, with the memory of Gospel work done together.
Paul reverses the phrase “we live and die together” to evoke our death to self and new life in Christ. As Christ lives in us, our relationships endure in Him. God’s faithfulness to us is where we find the ability to be loyal to one another (John 13:1).
Grace is greater than all the sin that adversely affects human relationships. Paul could experience joy in affliction because the Corinthians were responding to the conviction of the Holy Spirit.
The Function of Quality Relationships in the Church (2 Corinthians 7:5-7)
When Christian relationships grow dysfunctional, one person has decided no longer to appropriate supernatural grace to their own life and to that relationship. Paul's determination was underpinned by grace. In 2 Corinthians 2:12, he was experiencing great turmoil of soul while remaining focused on Gospel progress. He wanted to hear Titus’ report of Corinthians’ walk with the Lord.
Relationships in the church function with the continuation of faithful ministry – Paul never stopped ministering while waiting in agony of soul. When relationships are struggling, believers assume it will be fixed and keep ministering. This is a supernatural reality that takes place when we assume both parties are in Christ and indwelt by Holy Spirit. We persevere because God is always growing us by grace toward Christ-likeness. Relational health is a function of God’s work in us as we devote ourselves to Him and His cause.
This passage has no qualifiers. If both parties in conflict are children of God, the relationship can be restored, because the spread of the Gospel is worth it. Unbelief is who says “I won’t reconcile because of them.” This attitude actually blames God and says He can’t restore.
There are only a couple times in the New Testament when God condones the severing of relationships (Matthew 19:9 and 1 Corinthians 7:15, both in a marital context). Any other situation when a relationship is not restored, where someone is unable to appropriate the grace of God, reveals the presence of unbelief. Anyone in this situation must consider that they might need to be born again; believers must confess, repent and forsake, and restore their fellowship with God and others. If Jesus could condescend to come to earth and die for your sin-sick soul, you can certainly be reconciled to a sin-sick soul who is close to you by His grace.
Relationships in the church enjoy both divine and personal help. Paul was encouraged by Titus and the Corinthian people. God doesn’t even have to reconcile us to Himself; but he additionally blesses with each other. The Corinthians were restored to a right perspective and attitude toward Paul and willingly rejoined him for spread of Gospel. The words "longing, mourning, and zeal" show their renewed loyalty.
- Any situation when a relationship is not restored, where someone is unable to appropriate the grace of God, reveals the presence of unbelief. Anyone in this situation must consider that they might need to be born again; believers must confess, repent and forsake, and restore their fellowship with God and others. If Jesus could condescend to come to earth and die for your sin-sick soul, you can certainly be reconciled to a sin-sick soul who is close to you by His grace. Please get right with God so you can know the joy of His grace.
Tools for Further Study
Cross References to Explore
- Galatians 6:1-10 – How our relationships endure.
- 2 Corinthians 1:3-7 – We share comfort with others struggling in their relationships.
- 3 John 1:4 – The encouragement of relationships in the church.