Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Christ's suffering and Paul's ministry of reconciliation reflect God's love for sinners

Text: 2 Corinthians 5

Theme: Glory in Christ, not the flesh

1. By enduring weakness

     F. Suffering results in eternal reward (4:16 - 5:11)
     G. Suffering reflects God's love (5:12-21). 

Chapter five continues the thought of 4:16-18, that hope of resurrection and eternal reward  should encourage believers to endure weakness for Christ's glory. Though false teachers apparently tried to discredit Paul's ministry as "weak", "insincere", and "insane", chapter five shows how suffering can result in eternal reward (1-11), and reflect God's love (12-21).

Suffering results in eternal reward (1-11). Since death only ushers them into the presence of the Lord and an immortal state, it is preferable for a believer (8). The awesome prospect of standing before Christ at the judgment seat (lit. "bema": a place where the judge of Greek games issued rewards) motivated Paul to "be pleasing" (9) to Christ.  Since salvation is entirely by grace, through faith, apart from human deeds (cf. Ephesians 2:8-10; Romans 3-4; Galatians, etc.), and Christ bore the judgment penalty of all sin of all time (cf. 2 Cor. 5:21; 1 John 2:2; Hebrews 10:1-18), the "bema" seat judgment will not affect a believer's salvation. Rather, it will determine reward or loss of reward, based on a person's deeds (10; cf. 1 Cor. 3:12-15; 4:1-5). Even our good deeds are the gracious work of God in our lives, so that all glory goes to God (Ephesians 2:9, 10; Philippians 2:13). Awe of standing before Christ for eternal reward should motivate believers to endure weakness for His glory. 

Suffering reflects God's love (5:12-21). Apparently the false teachers also labeled Paul's ministry "insincere", and "insane". In contrast to "those who take pride in outward appearance" (12), Paul's service was motivated by awe of Christ (11), and controlled by the "love of Christ" (14). Christ demonstrated God's love by dying for all men's sins (14b -15; cf. Romans 5:8). It is only fitting  that "those who live [believers] should no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf" (15). Because salvation depends on this work of Christ, Paul no longer recognized men on the basis of their merits or appearance. Rather, he saw believers as new creatures in Christ (17), and served as God's ambassador to the world (18-21). God is able to harmonize believers with Himself, since He placed their sin on Christ, and Christ's righteousness to their account (21). Christ's suffering and Paul's ministry of reconciliation reflect God's love for sinners.

2 comments:

Dennis Thurman said...

How can you have love without pain? We celebrate that reality this Sunday on Mother's Day. A good word for us. If we considered Christ's example and Paul's model, maybe we wouldn't have so many whiny preachers--myself included.

Anonymous said...

Amen.

The Gospel


Have you heard Christ died for our sins, and God raised Him from the dead? Did you know God saves you from hell and gives you eternal life through faith in this finished work alone, not your merits (Jn. 3:16; 1 Cor. 15:1-3; Eph. 2:8-10; 2 Thess. 1:8-9)? This is so man cannot boast, and God alone gets the glory (Eph. 2:8-9).

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