Title: Paul’s Confidence in the Church
Text: 2 Corinthians 6.14-7.16
Introduction: Pray – God’s anointing on this time, this message, this speaker.
A quick review of how we got here…
- Contentment: Chapters 1& 2 deal with Paul’s Contentment
This next section is the current section we’re on and we’ll finish up today.
- Confidence in his Ministry; rd 3.4-5
- Confidence in the Message; rd 4.1; v5 is the reason; rd v 16
- Confidence in the future; rd 5.1; 5.6
- Confidence in the Gospel – the Ministry of Reconciliation; in 5.11-6.2 Paul expresses his confidence in the ministry of reconciliation, i.e.: the Gospel to transform lives; rd 5.18-21;
- Confidence in affliction 6.1-13; that God is using it to demonstrate his power and communicate the gospel through weak vessels.
- Confidence in grief and sorrow; i.e.: it leads to repentance – which is his goal for them. And I think the culmination of this is wrapped up in the last verse – rd 7.16
Just so you know, as we conclude this series today and look forward to the next, We’ll look at the Collection Paul is planning to take to the people in Judea who are suffering in Ch. 8-9. That will be a three sermon series on giving. However, I am most excited to share with you the series after that. It will be during the month of March and conclude on April 5th, Easter Sunday.
Then, beginning April 12th, We’ll finish up 2 Corinthians – which should lead us to the Summer. If you think about it, please be in prayer for me as I consider where to go next. I’ve a couple of ideas, but really would love some direction for the Holy Spirit. Will you pray?
Transition: So let’s pick up with this final sermon on Paul’s confidence – His confidence in grief and sorrow. These two, grief and sorrow, in the individual should lead us to repentance. And that repentance should be evident in an external way – that it to say, perceived by those who see us, who are watching us. Paul outlines this by giving us:
- Five Characteristics of Christians
- Six Scriptures to Validate his teaching
- His Comfort and Joy
Transition: Let’s begin in 6.14 with these 5 characteristics
1. 5 Characteristics of Christians (6.14-15)
exp.: rd v 14-16a; look at the questions; Paul uses 5 different words to bring emphasis to this ‘inequality’ of Christ and his followers to the world; 5 Questions:
- What partnership: μετοχὴ – Eric Metaxas;
- What fellowship: I know you know this Gk word! Κοινωνία; The NT word that describes the Church
- What accord: συμφώνησις – symphony; Lit.: A sounding together; Believers in partnership with non-believers creates a disonence.
- What portion: μερὶς – Col 1.12, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints; sharing
- What agreement: συγκατάθεσις – depositing together, as in votes;
Which brings us to the 5 Characteristics of believers:
- Righteousness: internal & external; cf.: v. 7 last week; incompatible
- Light: talk about incompatible! You cannot have both at the same time;
- Christ: KK: a tuba and a flute; banjo & Tuba; what symphony has the body of Christ and with believers in Belial? None!
- Faith: What portion, what share. You can’t! They’re Incongruent!
- A Temple of the Holy Spirit: One is filled with life and the other…no life at all; just wood, stone, marble, etc.
ill.: there is an interesting article Mindy Belz shares with World Magazine readers comparing Islam and Christianity. It comes from The Federalist (.com), who posted an article by the atheist, Robert Tracinski, entitled: Why Islam is more violent than Christianity: An Atheist’s Guide.
In the article he writes: But in today’s context, it’s absurd to equate Islam and Christianity. Pointing to the Spanish Inquisition tends to undermine the point rather than confirm it: if you have to look back three hundred years to find atrocities, it’s because there are so few of them today. The mass crimes committed under the name of Islam, by contrast, are fresh and openly boasted about.
He has this deep insight about the difference between the two when he writes: The life of the founder of a religion is held up to his followers as a model for how they should live their own lives. The life of Mohammed tells the Muslim that he should expect to rule, whereas the life of Christ tells the Christian he should expect to sacrifice and serve.
app.: Pretty impressive for an atheist to acknowledge and better yet, that Christianity has made that clear to him! So should it be, that we are different. We are distinct.
t.s.: now, Paul quotes from 6 different passages to validate this claim: rd v 16bff
2. Scripture Validation: 6 agreed upon OT passages (6.18-7.1)
exp.: these 6 different passage basically are quoted to demonstrate this teaching about our uniqueness, our distinctness. Note 1st,
- He is God – specifically, 16b, He is the Living God – as opposed to idols, which have no life. 2nd,
- He is Holy, and he has made his dwelling in our midst; rd v 16c;
Ill.: picture of the camp – God in the midst; that is why the unclean was taken outside the camp;
- Genesis – The patriarchs
- Exodus – The people become a nation
- Leviticus – the people are given laws to demonstrate God’s Holiness
- Numbers – The people are organized and set out toward the Promised Land to demonstrate God’s Holiness; They grumble and complain! The Spies turn the people away from God’s plan and the people rebel; they wonder in the wilderness for 40 years;
- Deuteronomy is the 2nd giving of the Law; once again to say, you are to be holy as I am holy; and that demonstration is clarified in the next verse: therefore we should be separate from the world and be holy as he is holy; that call was for Israel who was to be distinct from the rest of the World; Paul is emphasizing here that the church, Christians have that same call – to be distinct, to be separated from them for they are not holy. People, everything we do here should be done to demonstrate God’s Holiness; that’s another reason why what we do isn’t to mimic the world! Then, in this relationship that we have with him, established by God, he says:
- He is our Father, and we are his Children: this is the 3rd point Paul is driving home. In other places we’re called sheep; a building, a harvest, a bride; here we are called sons and daughters – A father to his children.
app.: So Paul applies this in 7.1; rd 7.1 – bring holiness to completion simply means we’ve been made holy internally by the washing away of our sins, let us complete that process by separating ourselves from the world and living out that holiness in an external way.
t.s.: Paul shares 5 characteristics of believers and backs it up with Scripture. Now, he will bring everything in this section on confidence to a conclusion. He simply states that his confidence has brought him great satisfaction – comfort and joy, as he calls it.
3. Paul’s Comfort & Joy (7.2-16)
exp.: rd 7.2 – Paul is using a word play he used when he began this section: 6.11-13; open wide your heats to us; rd v 3-4; and here is his emphasis through the rest of this chapter – his comfort and joy; rd 5-9; let me keep reading because he explains their grief; rd 10-16; Paul’s comfort and joy is brought
- Through Titus
- His Coming and
- His Report
- Through the Corinthians
- Their Grief (which led to)
- Their Repentance
ill.: I was sharing with our Bible Study group on Wednesday night a story from 1 Kings 13; Jeroboam, the 1st wicked king of the Northern Kingdom Israel. In actuality, all of the kings of the Northern Kingdoms were wicked! Jeroboam, was offering sacrifices at the altar he had built when an unnamed prophet confronted him. The King didn’t like it at all. He pointed at the prophet and yell, “Seize Him!” The ironic part of the story is that this king’s arm was seized up! Man, that really got his attention. He had the altar torn down and the ashes poured out. Then, he asked the prophet to entreat the Lord’s favor and heal him. So, the prophet prayed and the king was healed.
However, Jeroboam didn’t learn a thing. He wasn’t truly repentant – he was only sad that he had lost the use of his arm. Listen to the last two verses in that same chapter: 33 After this thing Jeroboam did not turn from his evil way, but made priests for the high places again from among all the people. Any who would, he ordained to be priests of the high places. 34 And this thing became sin to the house of Jeroboam, so as to cut it off and to destroy it from the face of the earth.
app.: A pastor’s heart is truly overjoyed, is truly comforted, when his people repent with sorrow in their hearts for rebelling against God. He loves to see that repentance characterized through a separation from the world and what it offers and is then expressed externally.
He loves to see them looking and living like their Father – who is holy. His response is very much like the Elder, John who said: For I rejoiced greatly when the brothers came and testified to your truth, as indeed you are walking in the truth. 4 I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.
t.s.: So, what are our take-a-ways this morning?
- When, as individuals, we are living our lives in righteousness, light and faith; when the Messiah is cherished, revered and obeyed (in each individual believers life); when there is external evidence that these tents are the true Temples of the living God – then we will experience corporately what Paul lists as questions in v 14-15: We will experience
- Point #1 is founded upon point # 2. He is God and He is Holy and it is His work of adoption that brings us into this relationship. On this foundation, three (3) promises of restoration are fulfilled in our lives here:
- We are Restored to Intimacy – I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. John 1.14 – 14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. and in 14.15f Jesus said: 15 “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, 17 even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.
- We are Restored through Adoption – I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to me, says the Lord Almighty. So many aspects of adoption we could point out here!
- We are Restored to Purity – cleansed by the blood of Jesus to walk in the newness of life. Meaning: we are pure by the completed work of Christ on the Cross and, through the daily struggle to consciously live pure lives.
- All of this lived out and experienced brings Confidence.
- Confidence in God – who works all things for the good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
- Confidence in His Church – who is his body – his hands and his feet – in this world. Confidence that she will fulfill the mission He gave to her.
In all of this, we must remain humble. A church that mirrors what we’ve just described is always in danger of falling into the pit of self-satisfaction and self-aggrandizement. Yes, she is beautiful and grand – but she is so only because of what God has done and is doing. It is not anything or anyone of these many elements – these members who make up the Body of Christ. We must remain humble.