Thru the Bible – Day 309

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Day 309 – Thru the Bible

Today we start Second Corinthians. Here’s the video for Second Corinthians.

Video – Read Scripture: 2nd Corinthians

How does this video help you understand Second Corinthians better?

2 Corinthians 1Paul is an afflicted leader who is writing to a congregation that is experiencing affliction. His response to their trials is to direct them to the “God of all comfort.” This understanding of God’s nature is grounded in the Person and work of Jesus, who experienced ultimate suffering and affliction on the cross, and who, in His resurrected rule, abundantly comforts His people.

Knowing this, and experiencing the comfort that He provides, we are able to understand our own afflictions as evidence of our solidarity with Jesus. We can never suffer for the purpose of redemption, for we cannot add to the atoning work of Jesus. However, our afflictions can serve as windows to the reality and benefits of our union with Jesus. If we experience affliction as Jesus did, we can expect to be comforted as Jesus was. If we undergo suffering, we can anticipate consolation. Even if we experience deadly peril, our hope has been set on a God who delivers us from death.

The reason for our afflictions is “to make us rely not on ourselves but on God.” This reliance translates into a life of patience and prayer. As we experience the deep comforts of the Gospel, which transcend circumstance and self-centeredness, we become comforters of the afflicted. Those who share in the comforts of the Gospel are those who actively share the comforts of the Gospel with those in need.

The apostle seeks to set things straight with the Corinthians, who have wrongly assumed that he is a person who goes back on his word. Rather than relying on his own authority, character, insight, or earthly wisdom, Paul appeals to that which is being done in him by the grace of God. Paul’s faithfulness finds its ultimate support in this truth, that God is faithful.

The fullness of God’s faithfulness is on display in Jesus. Rather than having a duplicitous “Yes and No” posture, God has spoken a singular Yes in Jesus. In His life, death, and resurrection, Jesus is the Yes to every one of God’s promises. In the life of a Believer, the confirmation of this Yes is the “Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.” Having this seal causes the Believer to be far more concerned about the witness of God than the witness of men. We no longer depend on the fickle approval of others because we have the final approval of God in Jesus—a reality Paul asserts to explain why he had put off coming to Corinth sooner: he did so not for his own convenience but to spare the Corinthians the discipline they deserved. His concern was for them, not for himself, because he was confident of the approval of God.

As Paul exemplified in this situation, living in light of God’s acceptance causes us to respond well to unwarranted or anticipated criticism. God’s promises develop in us a paradoxical life of both confidence and meekness. We become humble rather than arrogant, faithful rather than doubtful. This in turn serves as a worshipful response—a means of uttering our “Amen to God for His glory.”

Where did Paul find his true identity…where do you find yours?

2 Corinthians 2The Corinthian church is known for its besetting sins. These sins have caused Paul graciously to delay his coming so as not to come in harsh judgment, although their actions warrant additional instruction. Paul’s posture in the face of sin is one of abundant love, which flows from the comfort that he himself has received through the death and resurrection of Jesus.

How should Christians treat a fellow Believer who has sinned? The way we have been treated by Jesus. Forgiveness is offered as the unexpected means of breaking the cycle of sin and “un-grace.” Comfort is offered in the face of affliction. Love is reaffirmed so that the guilty party will not be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow over brokenness in a relationship. Even if we are called upon to administer consequences for sin or restorative discipline, these obligations do not remove the greater obligations of love and forgiveness.

A heart that has been forgiven much is a heart that forgives much (Matthew 18:21–35). On the one hand, because we know the depths of our own sin, we do not take the sin of others lightly. Paul indicates that the sinner in this case has undergone some form of church discipline. On the other hand, because we know the depths of forgiveness that we have in Jesus, we do not require payment for the sins of others. In the community of faith, sin is never overlooked. Rather, sin is directly addressed, acknowledged, and forgiven. In this way, we outwit Satan, whose intentions are to keep us in unrepentant, unforgiving, and divisive sin.

Paul is dealing with false apostles who have shaped the hearts of the Corinthians through artful rhetoric, power grabbing, and status seeking. His upside-down response is to show his insufficiency for the call to preach the gospel! It is precisely in Paul’s weakness and inadequacies that God is shown to be all-sufficient. At the center of Paul’s life stands the inverted, status-eschewing self-sacrifice of the Son of God. The result is a willingness to abandon wise words, exhibitions of strength, and prestige in favor of being led as a captive in the counterintuitive triumphal procession of Jesus.

As Believers live in sacrificial submission to God, their speech and actions serve as the “fragrance” and “aroma” of Jesus. To those looking for worldly evidences of power, the upside-down nature of the Gospel feels like death. To those in whom the Spirit of God is at work, however, the fragrance is one of life to life. Because Believers are commissioned by God and follow the lead of Jesus, our ministry need not be ostentatious, showy, or professional. Because victory in Jesus actually refers to self-death and self-donation, we define our successes in terms of service and self-giving. Only the One whose death has secured our life can provide the resources for the radical reversal of all of our values.

How is God using your weakness to show off His power?

What other thoughts or questions does today’s video and reading bring up?

Some of these notes are from the ESV Gospel Transformation Bible study notes. We highly recommend this study Bible.

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