2 Corinthians 2

You can read the entire chapter here.

VS 1-4 I wrote to you with many tears

As we will find throughout 2 Corinthians this chapter is fluid with the previous chapter.  Here Paul espouses what unity should accomplish.  If you cause someone grief, how will they encourage you?  Grief should cause us to repent (2 Corinthians 7:9-11), not to live in sorrow and guilt.  Paul did not write his previous letter to harm them but he wrote it with many tears in the hope they would repent and receive his instructions.  We need to learn from Paul in this matter: when we bring correction let us do it with love, however severe the correction is.  It’s not our job to cause harm.  We should work in unison with the Spirit of God who points to Jesus as the only answer.  If you must rebuke let it be with love and tears.  People are more likely to receive correction if they know you love them sincerely.

We also learn here that you can have joy in deep sorrow and anguish (VS 3-4.)  There is in the free Christian the joy of the Lord that abides regardless of emotions and circumstances.  Paul also wanted them to know the deep love he had for them.

VS 5-11 Forgiveness for the offender 

This passage is challenging because Paul isn’t specific about who the offender is.  Obviously his original audience knew.  It was either a leader of an opposition to Paul or the one living in open, flagrant sexual sin as found in 1 Corinthians 5:1-5.

What is important is what we learn about restoration.  He (whoever he was) was punished by the majority.  This is most likely enacted along with Paul’s instructions in 1 Corinthians 5:2, 5: “…he who has committed this act might be removed from among you…..turn that one over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the Day of the Lord.”  Severe indeed but needed.

Apparently it served it’s purpose.  He felt sorrow for his sin and repented.  Now what was needed was for the person who was removed & experienced shame to be restored. Paul’s in his first epistle records these words of wisdom: “Brothers, if someone is caught in any wrongdoing, you who are spiritual should restore such a person with a gentle spirit, watching out for yourselves so you won’t be tempted also. Carry one another’s burdens; in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” –  Galatians 6:1-2

Paul also warned that if this restoration did not take place Satan could again take advantage of the situation. We are not to be ignorant of the devil’s schemes.

We also learn another important attribute of God in these verses.  It’s not in God’s nature for us to have sorrow multiplied upon sorrow (see VS 7).  One reason Paul insisted on this man’s restoration is that he could be overwhelmed by grief, which God did not desire.  God is not interested in embarrassing the sinner but in seeing them forgiven and healed. For example see John 8:2-12.  It would have not served the purpose of his loving return to fellowship and a free and forgiven life.  We must always remember: we can forgive because we have been forgiven!

VS 12-17 To God we are the fragrance of Christ

Another change of plans so Paul is again flexible in his travels. Fellowship was very important (we don’t read of Paul traveling alone much) and the absence of Titus troubled the Apostle.  This is also where Paul transitions from the past to the present in this letter.

What follows is mind-blowing.  God puts us on display completely identified in Christ.  The aroma or scent of Christ is as a sacrifice pleasing to God. See Gen. 8:21; Ex. 29:25; Lev. 1:13; Num. 15:3.  We are living sacrifices, see Romans 12:1 & 1 Peter 2:5.

Everywhere we go we spread the aroma of Christ but it is perceived differently by each person.  Paul says in VS 15-16 “For to God we are the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing. To some we are a scent of death leading to death, but to others, a scent of life leading to life.”  I can’t help but to think of Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 1:18 – The Cross is foolish to the perishing but the power of God to those being saved.  The same undiluted message, as a two edged sword, cuts both ways.  I implore those who read these words: do not reject the message of the gospel but instead love the truth!!

I’m reminded of a passage in CS Lewis’ masterpiece The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrob, Chapter 7. Read closely of the three reactions of the Pevensie children when they hear that “Aslan (the novel’s Christlike figure) is on the move…”

“They say Aslan is on the move – perhaps has already landed.”  And now a very curious thing happened. None of the children knew who Aslan was any more than you do; but the moment the Beaver had spoken these words everyone felt quite different……Edmund felt a sensation of mysterious horror. Peter felt suddenly brave and adventurous. Susan felt as if some delicious smell or some delightful strain of music had just floated by her. And Lucy got the feeling you have when you wake up in the morning and realize that it is the beginning of the holidays or the beginning of summer.

When people hear the words Jesus Christ they may react or feel differently.  All that’s required of us is that we be faithful in our lives and the message of the gospel.

Paul concludes chapter two with “For we are not like the many who make a trade in God’s message [for profit], but as those with sincerity, we speak in Christ, as from God and before God.”  This is true sincerity and transparency.  We are not to peddle the word of God.  Ministry is not for charlatans.  Not only do we speak in Christ as from God (sent by Him) but “before God” (in responsibility to Him.)

What do we learn for our lives today from 2 Corinthians 2?…

  • If we must rebuke, let it be in love and in unity with the Spirit of God. All our actions must be redemptive.
  • When one repents be sure to receive them and reassure them of your love.
  • Do not be ashamed to spread the gospel everywhere you go.  This is a high calling of the church.

Unless otherwise indicated all Scripture is taken from the Holman Christian Standard Bible ® Copyright © 2003, 2002, 2000, 1999 by Holman Bible Publishers. All rights reserved.

2 Corinthians 1

The chapter may be found here.

Paul begins his second letter to the Corinthians (this was probably his 4th letter in actuality: 1 Corinthians 5:9, Acts 18:1-17 & 2 Corinthians 2:3–4) with a warm greeting: “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” HCSB.) Paul used a wordplay common to Christians at the time: “the Greeks greeted with “Hello” (Gk. charein), however Christians with “Grace” (Gk. charis.) This letter was most likely written about a year after 1 Corinthians. Paul is no doubt the author. Some question the authorship of 6:14–7:1 but Paul was most likely compiling scripture. There is no reasonable doubt that the epistle is Pauline.

Father of mercies and the God of all comfort. VS 3-11

VS 3-11 offer an incredible insight into the theology of comfort. I use the term theology because comfort comes from God. Though the word empathy is never used in scripture it is indeed described quite adequately, especially here. To sum it up: I was hurting, God comforted me, I can comfort you with the comfort I received from God. Christians can feel for others they way a non-Christian cannot.

VS 5 says it quite well: “He comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any kind of affliction, through the comfort we ourselves receive from God.

This passage also dismantles a contemporary sentiment: “God won’t let you go through more than you can handle.” That statement is not true. Nowhere are we taught this. 1 Corinthians 10:13 says we won’t be tempted beyond what we are able. Here Paul actually said he and his companions “…were completely overwhelmed—beyond our strength —so that we even despaired of life. However, we personally had a death sentence within ourselves…” VS 8b – 9a. This sounds to me as if they were overwhelmed beyond their human ability. Paul was driven to a deeper trust in God. Even the Apostle Paul needed to learn afresh to not trust himself but in God who raises the dead.

We also learn that we can help others through prayer (VS 11.) It’s amazing that if we cannot be there in person our prayers to God for them cause us to both join them in their work and help them.

Paul’s godly boast. VS 12-14

Paul was not one to boast in himself even though he had the ability to. It was Paul who taught by the Spirit that love is not boastful. However, here Paul’s boast is this: “..the testimony of our conscience that we have conducted ourselves…..with God-given sincerity and purity, not by fleshly wisdom but by God’s grace.” All one needs do is read 1 Corinthians to see how open, loving but stern, & honest Paul was toward them.

“Yes” has come about in Him VS 15-24

Paul uses his travel plans to teach an important message. Paul considers it mere human (fleshly, in step with the sinful nature) “..to say “Yes, yes” and “No, no” [simultaneously].” VS 17b

Paul’s honesty, however painful to him at times, was a reflection of God’s character. Paul isn’t merely teaching to be honest, he is declaring God’s faithfulness in all things. God can be trusted (this point was punctuated with the reminder that He even raises the dead in VS 9.) What God has promised He will fulfill.

God’s message is not “Yes and no.” He doesn’t change His mind the way we may. The coming of the promised Messiah is God’s ultimate promise fulfilled. In fact all God’s promises are fulfilled in Jesus, our ultimate source of life and satisfaction.

Amen means “So be it.” or a resounding “YES!” in context of God’s promises. Paul teaches says that “”Yes” has come about in Him (Jesus Christ).” VS 19b.

Paul will address this further (his meek handling of them) but he concludes chapter 1 by letting him know the delay was to spare them from a severe rebuke (VS 23 NLT). According to VS 24 Paul was not interested in dominating them (as often is the practice of leaders who follow the flesh) with his teaching. His desire was sincere: to work with them which will lead to full joy. We stand firm by our faith in Christ.

What does this mean for us today?

  • Do not despair when you go through hardships. God is working in you (perhaps with “trust issues”.) God will use you to comfort others with the comfort you received through Him.
  • Boast in God alone. Be sincere & holy in your Christian walk and you will have no reason to be ashamed.
  • Like God let your yes be yes and your no, no. Be steadfast in your faith-walk. This is a reflection in your life that God does not change. Remember that God keeps His promises. All the Father’s promises are ultimately fulfilled in Jesus Christ who is our well of living water, salvation, satisfaction, healing, & risen Lord.

Unless otherwise indicated all Scripture is taken from the Holman Christian Standard Bible ® Copyright © 2003, 2002, 2000, 1999 by Holman Bible Publishers. All rights reserved.

‘A Relationship With the Abba of Jesus”

“I want neither a terrorist spirituality that keeps me in a perpetual state of fright about being in right relationship with my heavenly Father nor a sappy spirituality that portrays God as such a benign teddy bear that there is no aberrant behavior or desire of mine that he will not condone. I want a relationship with the Abba of Jesus, who is infinitely compassionate with my brokenness and at the same time an awesome, incomprehensible, and unwieldy Mystery. ” 
— Brennan Manning

Running to God for Refuge

Reuben Smith July 2011

 

Psalm 91 (NLT)

Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

 

 

Proverbs 18:10 “The name of the Lord is a strong fortress;
      the godly run to him and are safe.”

 

Jesus said in Matthew 11:28-30 “…..Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” 

In light of these passages I’d like us to take a look at Psalm 91. It’s a beautiful picture of the benefits of running to God.  If a burning coal is separated from the rest of the coals it will soon cool off. Distance from God is a dangerous.  In nature we see that if a pack animal is distance from the herd (for whatever reason, age or sickness) it is at moment in danger.

Let’s look at Psalm 91 and specifics of running to God. 

I. Rest and Refuge

1 Those who live in the shelter of the Most High
      
will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
 2 This I declare about the Lord:
   
He alone is my refuge, my place of safety;
      he is my God, and I trust him

 

II.  Rescue and Protection

3 For he will rescue you from every trap
      and
protect you from deadly disease.
 4 He will cover you with his feathers.
      He will shelter you with his wings.
      
His faithful promises are your armor and protection.

5 Do not be afraid of the terrors of the night,
      nor the arrow that flies in the day.
 6 Do not dread the disease that stalks in darkness,
      nor the disaster that strikes at midday.
 7 Though a thousand fall at your side,
      
though ten thousand are dying around you,
      these evils will not touch you.

14 The Lord says, “I will rescue those who love me.
      I will protect those who trust in my name.

 III.  Victory

13 You will trample upon lions and cobras;
you will crush fierce lions and serpents under your feet!

 

IV. We have His attention!

 15 When they call on me, I will answer;
      
I will be with them in trouble.
      I will rescue and honor them.
 16 I will reward them with a long life
      and give them my salvation.”

Forming Christ in Us

Reuben Smith July 2011

 

God took great care in the formation of man and the image was primarily spiritual.  That is why sin marred the likeness.  When we are rebellious we are no longer Christlike (Luke 22:42).  Little is said in scripture of God’s creation of animals (though it is clear) and never was it indicated that they were in His likeness at all.  He already had the heavenly hosts who praise Him around the clock.  His purpose in creating you was grand and well thought out.

 

  1. God’s original design was for us to be in His image and likeness. 

Genesis 1:26-27 Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness. They will rule the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, the animals, all the earth, and the creatures that crawl on the earth.”

    27 So God created man in His own image;  He created him in the image of God; He created them male and female.”

The Bible goes into more detail here: Genesis 2:7 “Then the LORD God formed the man out of the dust from the ground and breathed the breath of life into his nostrils, and the man became a living being.”

Do you see a grand design in creation?

II. Under the New Covenant we are having Christ formed in us

Paul said in Galatians 4:10 “My children, again I am in the pains of childbirth for you until Christ is formed in you.”

Romans 12:1-2 “Therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, I urge you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your spiritual worship. 2 Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.”

 

This world (the demonic world system that is apposed to all things godly) is trying to conform us to it’s image.  It’s image is marred and contrary to God’s.

 

  1. He is still forming us – the potter’s house example

 

Jeremiah 18:1-5 “[This is] the word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD: 2 “Go down at once to the potter’s house; there I will reveal My words to you.” 3 So I went down to the potter’s house, and there he was, working away at the wheel. 4 But the jar that he was making from the clay became flawed in the potter’s hand, so he made it into another jar, as it seemed right for him to do.

    5 The word of the LORD came to me: 6 “House of Israel, can I not treat you as this potter [treats his clay]?”—[this is] the LORD’s declaration. “Just like clay in the potter’s hand, so are you in My hand, house of Israel.” 

 

Notice a few things here concerning God’s intended image. God is sovereign.  The potter (clearly representing God) took the same clay and went from one type of jar to another.  We know that whatever is in God’s heart we shall submit too however the ultimate goal is to be more like Jesus (the ultimate image of God – Colossians 1:15.)

 

Paul directly eluded to this passage in Romans 9:19-21 You will say to me, therefore, “Why then does He still find fault? For who can resist His will?” 20 But who are you —anyone who talks back to God? Will what is formed say to the one who formed it, “Why did you make me like this?” 21 Or has the potter no right over His clay, to make from the same lump one piece of pottery for honor and another for dishonor?

Potter

This needs to be our cry: “Yet LORD, You are our Father;
    we are the clay, and You are our potter;
    we all are the work of Your hands.”
Isaiah 64:8

We need to allow and invite the Holy Spirit to form Christ in us daily. To not let the world “re-form” us to it’s image.  

See all these & more scriptures on this subject I compiled as a companion to this teaching at: http://bit.ly/formingchristverses