Title: Closing Words
Text: 2 Corinthians 13.1-14
Introduction: (Turn on Recording) I ended my message last week with a challenge to keep the church pure. With all that is happening in America today, there is an even greater challenge before us. The once highly thought of church was influential in effecting its culture. Having napped away much of the last 50 years, it is time for us to get busy – and that busy-ness had better be the business of the Kingdom.
Paul concluded last week’s passage with the warning that he was coming soon. He will re-iterate that today. He says in 12.20f he has fears…rd 20-21; Now he says in 13.1a: This is the third time I am coming to you. There is this anticipation of his return.
Ill.: Pause for a moment and think about that. Do you know what it is like to anticipate someone coming to your house? What about family that hasn’t been in a couple of years? This year the Christmas party is at your house? Do you clean up a little? Decorate? I know of a lady who would change out pictures when she had family from another state come to visit. She took those family members and put them in strategic picture frames. After the family left, she put the pictures she wanted back in!
Paul says he’s coming – giving them fair warning; however, he does more than announce his coming –
- He makes a promise to them that when he gets there he is going to exercise some church discipline against those who are in sin and/or condoning such worldly behavior.
- He applies some pressure to the church membership to do some examination – a testing of itself to see if it is indeed in the faith.
- He tells them of his prayers for their restoration
Transition: let’s begin with this section – His promise.
1. Paul’s Promise: to bring church discipline by Christ’s power to those who are still in sin (1-4)
exp.: rd v 1b; Deut. 19.15; here Paul quotes from the LXX; every word must be established by two or even three witnesses. He says simply here: I plan on doing just that! rd v 2; I’ve warned you before that when I come again – well, I’m coming again. Now know, when I get there – I will spare no one. Every charge laid against you will be done properly and in order. We’re going to exercise some church discipline, and for those who live like they don’t know Jesus, will be treated like that. rd v 3-4; You want some proof – I’m bringing it!
app.: sounds like a threat – uh-uh; it’s a promise!
t.s.: Now Paul plays off of a word he’s just used to apply some pressure… Let me show you what I mean…
2. Paul’s Pressure: to the church to test and examine itself, to see if it is indeed in the faith (5-7)
exp.: rd v 5a; Two words – Examine & Test; I like Test for the first word; the NASB puts it this way. For the 2nd word, test here in our text, we see this same word in the verse above, verse 3; I like prove; Prove yourselves! Read the rest of v 5-6; he uses this word a 3rd time, with the negative alpha as a prefix; 6 lit.: I expect (8.5) you will know (γινώσκω) that we have not disproved; i.e.: failed the test; And as you take this test, It is my deepest desire that you’ll see we have passed that test! How is this? Actions prove you’re a believer and actions prove you’re not a believer. Paul is saying that love isn’t what you say, it’s what you do. This lines up with his preaching in Acts 26. 19-20: 19 “Therefore, O King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision, 20 but declared first to those in Damascus, then in Jerusalem and throughout all the region of Judea, and also to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, performing deeds in keeping with their repentance.
Jesus taught the same message in Matthew 3.8 and Luke 3.8: 8 Bear fruit in keeping with repentance. Paul’s saying the same thing here: you should be able to identify followers of Christ by the fruit of their lives.
ill.: Now, here is where you put part 1 and part 2 together. And the practice of these two is called Church Discipline: someone becomes a member of the church (any local congregation); they say they believe like we do; they get baptized and they begin serving in our local church. But then one day, they begin acting like the world: rd 12.20-21; Well, when you notice a Christian acting in a non-Christian way, then you approach them privately, so as not to embarrass them. This gives them a chance to repent. If they do, you set it aside and forgive them. Everything moves along, as it should. No one has to know.
Can I point something out to you? At this point, if you see a brother or sister living in sin and you don’t go to them, but rather go to other believers to seek advice – you are now in sin – you are the one acting like a non-believer. Rd 12.20; if you’re right about the brother in sin – you are now gossiping. Cf. 12.20; if you’re wrong – that’s called slander! Cf. 12.20;
Ill.: I broke down between Casper and Shoshone: a bar in the middle of nowhere. My transmission went out – only worked in 1st gear! My truck go me 10 miles to the next stop – a bar. True story.
Now, let’s say you do this right and the brother or sister likes their sin and doesn’t want to repent. Now we have a problem. Here is where Paul’s statement comes into play. You now go to the elders. Really that is where it should go. The elders then can confront the person with you. At this point, if they refuse to repent – that is, if they fail the test of faith, then the matter should be brought before the church.
app.: Jesus said in Mt 18.15: “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. 16 But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. 17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.
t.s.: So, 12.19-13.6, give us a manual for church discipline. Paul moves now to his prayers for them.
3. Paul’s Prayers: for the church is it’s full restoration. (7-10)
exp.: rd v 7-9; for their restoration; no matter how things appear, in weakness or in strength, Paul prays that they get this and are “restored”; in the literal sense, this word means training or When it’s used as a medical term in classical Gk literature, it means to set a broken bone; it’s a hard word to translate into English because of what it means;
ill.: When you read Matthew 4.21, you get a little idea of the meaning of this word: 21 And going on from there he saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets, and he called them. Mending; the NIV – preparing; In Eph 4.12 we read: to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ; When you consider a broken bone being reset, restoration works; the same with mending nets – they’re restoring them, so to speak. It can mean completion or even perfection;
app.: Here’s the thing – they’re not where they need to be, like an axe that isn’t sharp, or a knife that has become dull, like nets that have been torn – someone has to work on these tools to make them useful again. That’s what Paul is praying for – their restoration.
t.s.: Finally, Paul winds down his letter with 6 commands…
exp.: rd v 11-14; 6 commands – imperative verbs;
- Rejoice – (pres act imp)
- Be restored; perfected (pft pass imp) – complete; you remember, this is his prayer for them.
- Comfort (encourage) one another; one word in the Gk – παρακαλέω; (pres pass imp) – so it’s not so much that you are the catalyst for encouragement and comfort, but rather you’re comforted and encouraged by others. Footnote #2: listen to my appeal. Implies that the passivity on the part of the Corinthians is their encouragement from Paul.
- Agree with one another: Lit.: Have the same mind.
- Live in peace (be at peace);
- Greet one another with a holy kiss. Do you guys know Johnny Beard. I wish he was here today! (mid voice, imp) do this for yourself; How does greeting someone with a holy kiss, help you? This really helps you and your attitude toward one another. So, what would be the equivalent today? Praying for someone – daily.
- Nothing is more important than relationships. Relationships are the core foundation for the body. Worship (leave your gift at the altar – go and be reconciled to your brother); Evangelism (by this all men will know you are my disciples, if you have love for one another); discipleship is relationships;
- Church purity is vital. No church membership means no accountability.
- Church discipline is necessary. None of us is perfect and we all need each other to help us along.
- Jesus is coming soon. Paul has given them ample warning – he’s coming and he’s cleaning house. I think that is so apropos with regard to this present topic – Jesus is coming again, too. Are we ready?
- As a body?