Day 312 – Thru the Bible
Today we continue in Second Corinthians.
2 Corinthians 7 – Paul is comforted by the Corinthians’ response to the Gospel. His earlier descriptions of comfort in affliction (2 Corinthians ) are true in his own life. It is the change that he sees in their lives that brings great comfort to Paul. This transformation is characterized by their response of godly sorrow and repentance to Paul’s difficult letter.
To see Gospel transformation in action, consider these movements of grace: Paul receives comfort in his affliction from Jesus (2 Corinthians 1:5). This gives him the confidence and grace to write a difficult letter to the Corinthians in which he speaks the truth in love (2 Corinthians 2:1–11). Their response is godly sorrow that leads to repentance. Their repentance leads to a renewed zeal for godliness. As they are refreshed by the Spirit, they become a source of refreshment-bringing joy to their leaders through their obedience to the Gospel (Jesus). In turn, Titus experiences rejuvenation, which causes Paul to rejoice all the more. The Gospel transformation is beautifully personal and interpersonal. When I pass on to my community the comfort I have received from Jesus, the effect is a multiplication of the grace that I have received, which is cause for both comfort and rejoicing.
How has the Gospel brought comfort to you?
2 Corinthians 8 – The Corinthians had started out eager to support fellow Christians in their financial need but have now lost the desire to give generously. Though Paul might legitimately appeal to his apostolic authority or to the obligation to give a tithe (Leviticus ), he knows that the Corinthians need a deeper motivation (one the Law cannot ever provide). And so he appeals to the Gospel.
Jesus gave not just a tenth of Himself, but all of His riches. He embraced poverty so that we might become rich. His radical act of total self-giving is the only thing that can consistently move us to give joyfully and generously. In essence, if we don’t desire to respond to God’s grace with sacrificial giving, then we have not yet fully understood the nature of the Gospel. The answer to our motivation problem is not adherence to a new command but a more thoroughgoing knowledge and experience of the extravagant self-giving of Jesus.
If we understand that all we have is a direct result of what Jesus has given us, we will be moved to give out of our abundance, to carry others’ burdens, and to seek after fairness and equity.
Here we see Gospel priorities at work in the life of the church. First, the preaching of the Gospel is essential for the ongoing health of the church. When Paul wants to see continued change in the Corinthians, he makes it a priority to send them someone who will faithfully and continually preach the Gospel.
Second, Christian obedience is responsive Gospel action. The giving of the Corinthians is understood as an act of grace. In other words, our self-giving is so organically connected to Jesus’ self-giving that the former is seen as a natural outgrowth of the latter.
Third, external acts of grace are not to be seen as means to gain favor with God, but are to be understood as proof that the Gospel is working in our lives. The honorable conduct of the messengers ensures that they are not getting in the way of the message.
Finally, because of the Gospel, our obedience is never compulsory but is always a willing gift (2 Corinthians 9:5). Rather than giving out of obligation or compulsion, we give abundantly because God’s grace is being worked into our hearts. Grace becomes a fountain within us. We are not mercenary in our giving but are free to participate in one-way giving without expecting anything in return. This Gospel logic undergirds the life of the church: the preaching of the Gospel leads to changed hearts that compulsively act out the Gospel as proof of God’s radical generosity in Jesus.
If you are being taught a message that coerces you to give or act in some particular way, than you are being taught something other than the Gospel. Run!
How does the Gospel motivate the way you live?
What other thoughts or questions does today’s reading bring up?
Some of these notes are from the ESV Gospel Transformation Bible study notes. We highly recommend this study Bible.
Videos produced by www.TheGospelProject.com.
All links you need to be a part of this are here – Thru the Bible in 2018.