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Last Imperatives in 2nd Corinthians 13

26/10/2013

Last Imperatives

Text: 2nd Corinthians 13
The theme of the book has been that of human weakness, human imperfection, and the realisation and admission of that weakness, so that in all things, God’s strength can be manifested. Paul drives the point home in 13:3-4. The hyper-apostles had been arguing that compared to them, Paul was just a pathetic little man. Paul reminds the Corinthians of the Saviour, who was mighty, but who was crucified in weakness – yet in that time of weakness, the strength of God was in Him! Now Paul, in his conclusion Paul writes the last few words – a series of imperatives; vital, important questions for every individual who claims to know Christ. Firstly, are you just a member of the church or…

1. Are you REALLY a Christian? v5-6
Are you a member of the church? That doesn’t make you a Christian! So Paul calls upon the Corinthians, (and us) to examine ourselves, to see if we are really ‘in the faith.’ Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Remember that he is writing to church members here. There may well be church members, possibly in the highest office, regular attendees, communicant members, who are in the visible church, but not in the kingdom of God!
So, Paul says TEST YOURSELF! Take a long hard look at yourself. Are you saved? This is important, for if you are not saved, your eternal destiny is at risk. Are you saved – or would you fail the test, would you be disqualified? Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you are disqualified. Are you really trusting Christ? Not trusting your prayers, or your religion, or your position in the church, or your reputation – but trusting Christ!

2. If you are, are you GROWING as a Christian? v7-10
Now, supposing that you have taken a good long look at yourself, and you conclude, ‘Yes, I am really trusting Jesus.’ The examination doesn’t end there, for a Christian should be progressing in the Christian life. So Paul has a special prayer for the Corinthians, that they would show forth:-

Goodness! Now I pray to God that you do no evil. Imagine a church, where nobody did evil – it would be the opposite to the church that Paul described in ch. 12.

Honour! not that we should appear approved, but that you should do what is honourable, though we may seem disqualified You may have weighed us up, using the measures of the hyper-apostles, and you may have decided that we have failed the test, but you – yourselves – should act honourably!

Truthfulness! For we can do nothing against the truth, but for the truth. What an honourable man Paul is. He won’t contradict truth, something we are all too prone to do today – we will do anything to evade the truth of God and his word, rather than do what is right, and apply it to our own lives.

Completeness! For we are glad when we are weak and you are strong. And this also we pray, that you may be made complete.
He not only desired that they might be kept from sin, but also that they might grow in grace, and increase in holiness, and that all that was wrong among them might be put right and reformed. This was why he wrote this epistle, that when he came to Corinth, he would not have to be sharp and angry with them. Therefore I write these things being absent, lest being present I should use sharpness, according to the authority which the Lord has given me for edification and not for destruction.

Finally, Paul asks them one more thing. Are you a member of a church, or:_

3. Are you part of a CHRISTIAN COMMUNITY? v11-13
Being a Christian is about more than the minimal commitment. Remember that Paul has said that he doesn’t want the Corinthians’ money – he wants them! God wants your whole life. So, being a Christian puts you into a Christian community!
We are brothers and sisters! We are part of the same family. Finally, brethren, farewell These people had been a source of great distress to Paul. He had brought that church into being, (humanly speaking) and he had nurtured it, and it had doubted him and slandered him and despised him. But they are his brothers! You can’t change that. You may not like some Christians, but if a person knows Christ as Saviour, and is truly born again, that person is your brother or sister.
As brothers we must interact with each other!

Comforting one another! Be of good comfort,
Agreeing with one another! There are basic Christian beliefs that are non-negotiable! We MUST agree with one another on these things. There must always be a basis of fellowship!

Don’t start rows! live in peace

We are to warmly regard each other! Greet one another with a holy kiss. In some churches they do that. In others they embrace. In some they shake hands. The meaning is obvious. We are to have a warm and friendly regard for each other.

Finally Paul says, The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.

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