If anyone owns the word "new," the church does. Those who have been transformed by the Gospel and have been given a new nature know the true meaning of the word. In a new year when much is uncertain, we know the Lord is still on the throne, and we are qualified and equipped for whatever may come our way.
Last week, we studied the believer's reality of possessing great spiritual treasure (2 Corinthians 4:7). The rest of our passage describes further realities that believers are assumed to enjoy.
A vulnerable person is defined as someone in need of special care, support, or protection because of innate disability or risk of abuse. Paul's first letter to the Corinthians addressed issues of sin and carnality in the church and prescribed corrective paths. The believers there received this rebuke and began to change. Then came another threat to their growth: false ones within the church. In this second letter, Paul has redirected their hearts to the comfort of God, his own integrity and love for them, intentional gospel ministry, and the greater glory of New Covenant. Next he rehearses how wonderful God’s transforming grace is to them on a personal level.
God’s nature is unity (Deuteronomy 6:4). When we are baptized into Christ, we are one with Him and with each other spiritually (John 17:11, 20-22). David and Solomon both praised the importance of unity among God’s people (Psalm 133:1, Proverbs 6:17-19). Anyone who dismisses the unity God has created and spreads strife unnecessarily is considered an abomination. The job of believers in the church is to maintain the unity of the Spirit in peace (Ephesians 4:3, Philippians 4:2). God’s people love what God has provided and persevere in unity.
As Paul continues to write according to his theme of ministry integrity, he turns to the quality of Christian relationships. This is one way people can suffer in a local church. When they are persuaded that Jesus is not enough, their relationships inside the church struggle, and they don't know how to develop redemptive relationships in the community. When unsure of the permanence of their relationship with God, then people have no foundation from which to build other relationships and no message of how the Gospel changed them.
Paul's discussion of ministry with integrity permeates 2 Corinthians through chapter 7. 2 Corinthians 4:1-6 can be divided into 5 sections which we will study over a couple weeks.
2 Corinthians 3:17-18 teach us about the power, boldness, and freedom we have in Christ to grow in Christ-likeness.
Among a remnant in Corinth, a disrespect for Paul was growing because of religious people who taught that one needed to do religious works to be saved. As a result, the Corinthians distrusted Paul and his behavior and plans for ministry.
There have always been religious intruders in the church who seek to dethrone the sufficiency of Jesus. Beware of anyone who undermines the sufficiency of Christ in salvation and spiritual growth or who undermines a messenger of Christ’s sufficiency.
God created the moon to be the lesser light of the night sky and the sun to rule the day (Genesis 1:16). When the sun comes up, the light of the moon no longer seems bright. Paul makes a similar comparison between the Old and New Covenant in 2 Corinthians 3:7-11, using a typical rabbinical comparison of the lesser to the greater.
2 Corinthians 3:4-6 compares a life lived under the Law with a life lived under grace. Paul knew the Corinthians had begun to lose their Gospel influence when they began embracing the false message of the Judaizers. The Law, even though divinely given, could not transform a person. No standard can change a heart. Its splendor is to convict.
The best way to protect the church from religious racketeers is to compare the nature and practice of the false and genuine.
God always and in every place enables us to carry on effective ministry despite difficulties. 2 Corinthians 2:12-17 gives 4 truths we can use to maintain effective ministry as a church during these providentially difficult times. Last week, we looked at the first.
God always and in every place enables us to carry on effective ministry despite difficulties.
The only way to minister with integrity is to have relationships continually maintained by God's Word. This must include forgiving those who have offended us.
A lack of healthy Christian relationships grieves the Holy Spirit. When He is grieved, He won't do much with us to reach lost people. 2 Corinthians 1:21-22 tells us 4 specific ways the Holy Spirit bolsters our activity inside and outside of the local church.
As we continue to study 2 Corinthians 1, we will see what Paul's ministry meant to interdependent relationships within the church. All the promises of God for personal relationships in the church are presented, received, and fulfilled in the Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, Christian relationships can and should thrive in Him. This does not mean there will be no struggle; but healing and progress can always be found in the Gospel. The unwavering nature of the Gospel message helps us regain spiritual confidence after conflict.
On Memorial Day, we reflect on the sobering love that gives one's life for a cause. As God's people, we must also value the service of saints in community of God, no less than we do those who serve our country. There is no greater cause than global Gospel evangelism. Sacrifices for our national freedom are great and honorable, but they are not of infinite salvific value.
2 Corinthians finds its author, Paul, defending his mission against threats to Gospel progress. His goal with the Corinthian believers to whom he was writing was to remain ministry partners even through relational difficulty while enjoying mutual comfort from God. Their unity in Christ was greater than anything that would divide them.
Paul makes the Corinthians believers aware of his own hardship in 2 Corinthians 1:6-11. We can benefit from other people's struggles. They encourage us to persevere and endure in our own walk of faith until Christ returns.
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