December 5, 2007
II Corinthians 5-9
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For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.
For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven:
If so be that being clothed we shall not be found naked.
For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened: not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life.
Now he that hath wrought us for the selfsame thing is God, who also hath given unto us the earnest of the Spirit.
Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord:
(For we walk by faith, not by sight:)
We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.
Wherefore we labour, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him.
For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.
Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are made manifest unto God; and I trust also are made manifest in your consciences.
For we commend not ourselves again unto you, but give you occasion to glory on our behalf, that ye may have somewhat to answer them which glory in appearance, and not in heart.
For whether we be beside ourselves, it is to God: or whether we be sober, it is for your cause.
For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead:
And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.
Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more.
Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.
And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation;
To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.
Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God.
For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.
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We then, as workers together with him, beseech you also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain.
(For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.)
Giving no offence in any thing, that the ministry be not blamed:
But in all things approving ourselves as the ministers of God, in much patience, in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses,
In stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labours, in watchings, in fastings;
By pureness, by knowledge, by longsuffering, by kindness, by the Holy Ghost, by love unfeigned,
By the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armour of righteousness on the right hand and on the left,
By honour and dishonour, by evil report and good report: as deceivers, and yet true;
As unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and, behold, we live; as chastened, and not killed;
As sorrowful, yet alway rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things.
O ye Corinthians, our mouth is open unto you, our heart is enlarged.
Ye are not straitened in us, but ye are straitened in your own bowels.
Now for a recompence in the same, (I speak as unto my children,) be ye also enlarged.
Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?
And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?
And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.
Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you,
And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.
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Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.
Receive us; we have wronged no man, we have corrupted no man, we have defrauded no man.
I speak not this to condemn you: for I have said before, that ye are in our hearts to die and live with you.
Great is my boldness of speech toward you, great is my glorying of you: I am filled with comfort, I am exceeding joyful in all our tribulation.
For, when we were come into Macedonia, our flesh had no rest, but we were troubled on every side; without were fightings, within were fears.
Nevertheless God, that comforteth those that are cast down, comforted us by the coming of Titus;
And not by his coming only, but by the consolation wherewith he was comforted in you, when he told us your earnest desire, your mourning, your fervent mind toward me; so that I rejoiced the more.
For though I made you sorry with a letter, I do not repent, though I did repent: for I perceive that the same epistle hath made you sorry, though it were but for a season.
Now I rejoice, not that ye were made sorry, but that ye sorrowed to repentance: for ye were made sorry after a godly manner, that ye might receive damage by us in nothing.
For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death.
For behold this selfsame thing, that ye sorrowed after a godly sort, what carefulness it wrought in you, yea, what clearing of yourselves, yea, what indignation, yea, what fear, yea, what vehement desire, yea, what zeal, yea, what revenge! In all things ye have approved yourselves to be clear in this matter.
Wherefore, though I wrote unto you, I did it not for his cause that had done the wrong, nor for his cause that suffered wrong, but that our care for you in the sight of God might appear unto you.
Therefore we were comforted in your comfort: yea, and exceedingly the more joyed we for the joy of Titus, because his spirit was refreshed by you all.
For if I have boasted any thing to him of you, I am not ashamed; but as we spake all things to you in truth, even so our boasting, which I made before Titus, is found a truth.
And his inward affection is more abundant toward you, whilst he remembereth the obedience of you all, how with fear and trembling ye received him.
I rejoice therefore that I have confidence in you in all things.
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Moreover, brethren, we do you to wit of the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia;
How that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality.
For to their power, I bear record, yea, and beyond their power they were willing of themselves;
Praying us with much intreaty that we would receive the gift, and take upon us the fellowship of the ministering to the saints.
And this they did, not as we hoped, but first gave their own selves to the Lord, and unto us by the will of God.
Insomuch that we desired Titus, that as he had begun, so he would also finish in you the same grace also.
Therefore, as ye abound in every thing, in faith, and utterance, and knowledge, and in all diligence, and in your love to us, see that ye abound in this grace also.
I speak not by commandment, but by occasion of the forwardness of others, and to prove the sincerity of your love.
For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich.
And herein I give my advice: for this is expedient for you, who have begun before, not only to do, but also to be forward a year ago.
Now therefore perform the doing of it; that as there was a readiness to will, so there may be a performance also out of that which ye have.
For if there be first a willing mind, it is accepted according to that a man hath, and not according to that he hath not.
For I mean not that other men be eased, and ye burdened:
But by an equality, that now at this time your abundance may be a supply for their want, that their abundance also may be a supply for your want: that there may be equality:
As it is written, He that had gathered much had nothing over; and he that had gathered little had no lack.
But thanks be to God, which put the same earnest care into the heart of Titus for you.
For indeed he accepted the exhortation; but being more forward, of his own accord he went unto you.
And we have sent with him the brother, whose praise is in the gospel throughout all the churches;
And not that only, but who was also chosen of the churches to travel with us with this grace, which is administered by us to the glory of the same Lord, and declaration of your ready mind:
Avoiding this, that no man should blame us in this abundance which is administered by us:
Providing for honest things, not only in the sight of the Lord, but also in the sight of men.
And we have sent with them our brother, whom we have oftentimes proved diligent in many things, but now much more diligent, upon the great confidence which I have in you.
Whether any do enquire of Titus, he is my partner and fellowhelper concerning you: or our brethren be enquired of, they are the messengers of the churches, and the glory of Christ.
Wherefore shew ye to them, and before the churches, the proof of your love, and of our boasting on your behalf.
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For as touching the ministering to the saints, it is superfluous for me to write to you:
For I know the forwardness of your mind, for which I boast of you to them of Macedonia, that Achaia was ready a year ago; and your zeal hath provoked very many.
Yet have I sent the brethren, lest our boasting of you should be in vain in this behalf; that, as I said, ye may be ready:
Lest haply if they of Macedonia come with me, and find you unprepared, we (that we say not, ye) should be ashamed in this same confident boasting.
Therefore I thought it necessary to exhort the brethren, that they would go before unto you, and make up beforehand your bounty, whereof ye had notice before, that the same might be ready, as a matter of bounty, and not as of covetousness.
But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully.
Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.
And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work:
(As it is written, He hath dispersed abroad; he hath given to the poor: his righteousness remaineth for ever.
Now he that ministereth seed to the sower both minister bread for your food, and multiply your seed sown, and increase the fruits of your righteousness;)
Being enriched in every thing to all bountifulness, which causeth through us thanksgiving to God.
For the administration of this service not only supplieth the want of the saints, but is abundant also by many thanksgivings unto God;
Whiles by the experiment of this ministration they glorify God for your professed subjection unto the gospel of Christ, and for your liberal distribution unto them, and unto all men;
And by their prayer for you, which long after you for the exceeding grace of God in you.
Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift.
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Thought for the day:
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II Corinthians 5 contains much insight into the importance of personal soul-winning. Paul opens the chapter by discussing the wonder of our resurrection bodies and how marvelous it will be when the believer finally arrives in his eternal home. He talks about the fact that while we are yet alive on earth we can have the faith that someday we will be ushered into the presence of God. In fact, Paul says that he would rather be with the Lord, because this world does not have the appeal to him that Heaven does. I wonder if we feel the same way. Are we anxiously looking forward to eternity, or are we so obsessed with our earthly lives that we would much rather continue in our flesh? I believe that our answers to that question will reveal much about our relationship with the Lord.
Paul then discusses the importance of being acceptable to Christ. He says that the reality that he will eventually be in the presence of God and stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ motivates him to a life of labor for the Lord. At the Judgment, every believer will give an account for the things that he did on earth after his salvation, regardless of whether they were good or bad. Paul then focuses on one particular aspect of Christian endeavor. He says in verse 11,
"Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men."
Persuading men refers to evangelizing and witnessing. The terror of the Lord refers to God's judgment. However, it does not refer to the terror that the unsaved will face when they stand before God to be judged and sent to Hell, for that judgment does not take place at the Judgment Seat of Christ. It is referring to the terror that the believer will have when he stands before God knowing that he has not been faithful to carry out God's command to
"Go ye into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature" (Mark 16:15).
Paul indicates that he does not have to fear that judgment, because everything that he has done, according to verse 13, has been either for God or for the sake of the people in Corinth.
In the remaining verses of the chapter Paul discusses the motivation, and message of the soul-winner. In verse 14 he states that we should be motivated not only by our future appearance before Jesus, but also by the love of Christ. It constrains us, which means that it compels us, presses us, and holds us together. There are four aspects to this. First, the fact that God loved me enough to send His Son to die for me ought to motivate me to service. Second, Christ died not only for me, but for all the lost, and thus He loves them every bit as much as He loves me, and He desires for them to be saved. Third, because I am to be Christ-like, I ought to love that which He loves, which would include the unbelievers. Fourth, according to verse 15, once a person has accepted salvation he should love Jesus enough to want to live for Him. If my understanding of God's love is correct, it should motivate my love for Him and others. When that happens, I will be motivated to be a witness of His saving grace.
In verse 19 Paul teaches that the responsibility to reconcile men to God has been given to His children. Thus, we are ambassadors for Christ. It is important to understand what the role of an ambassador is. An ambassador is chosen by his country's leader to leave his home and go to a culture that is foreign to him. Its language and customs are different, and its citizens do not pledge allegiance to his sovereign. The ambassador represents his nation before these people and attempts to sway them to the positions and beliefs that his sovereign holds. This is clearly the job of the Christian ambassador as well. Our Sovereign, Jesus Christ has called us by His grace to serve Him. He has sent us to the unsaved world, which does not live, speak, or think like children of God do. Our job is to represent Jesus, and do our best to persuade men to receive Him as their Sovereign and Savior by telling them that Christ took their sins upon Himself at the cross so that they might receive His righteousness, and then spend eternity with us in Heaven.
Paul says that we are ambassadors. The question is: how good a job are we doing?
Pastor Mark J Montgomery