Today we start a Bible study series through Paul’s 2nd letter to the Corinthians. This is a candid and personal letter from Paul to a church that he started years before. We covered his 1st letter to the church in Corinth previously where he set them going on the right path rather than letting them go astray — as a good pastor should.
Now, they were questioning Paul’s authority. They were asking, “Who are you to tell us how to live?!” Paul then explains what it means to be a servant — or minister — or ambassador of Jesus Christ.
Followers of Jesus are called — asked by God — to be ministers — a fellow worker. For instance, this is my ministry — this blog and podcast. God is using the talents and skills He gave me to further His Kingdom. In church, I run Facebook Live during the 2nd service each Sunday. In a few weeks, I’ll start helping to organize the rebuilding of our food pantry.
2 Corinthians 1
This letter is from Paul, chosen by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus, and from our brother Timothy.
I am writing to God’s church in Corinth and to all of his holy people throughout Greece.
2 May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace.
God Offers Comfort to All
3 All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. 4 He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us. 5 For the more we suffer for Christ, the more God will shower us with his comfort through Christ. 6 Even when we are weighed down with troubles, it is for your comfort and salvation! For when we ourselves are comforted, we will certainly comfort you. Then you can patiently endure the same things we suffer. 7 We are confident that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in the comfort God gives us.
We know that the Christian life is not easy. We covered that in a past post. However, God comforts us in our troubles. In turn, when we have friends or family members who are going through what we’ve been through, we are then able to comfort them. For instance, my mom died last Christmas. My church offers a program called “GriefShare“. It was very comforting to share with other Christians what I felt and was going through. Furthermore, I was also able to help comfort a friend who lost her husband over a year ago and was still trapped in grief. Onward…
8 We think you ought to know, dear brothers and sisters, about the trouble we went through in the province of Asia. We were crushed and overwhelmed beyond our ability to endure, and we thought we would never live through it. 9 In fact, we expected to die. But as a result, we stopped relying on ourselves and learned to rely only on God, who raises the dead. 10 And he did rescue us from mortal danger, and he will rescue us again. We have placed our confidence in him, and he will continue to rescue us. 11 And you are helping us by praying for us. Then many people will give thanks because God has graciously answered so many prayers for our safety.
Paul’s Change of Plans
12 We can say with confidence and a clear conscience that we have lived with a God-given holiness and sincerity in all our dealings. We have depended on God’s grace, not on our own human wisdom. That is how we have conducted ourselves before the world, and especially toward you. 13 Our letters have been straightforward, and there is nothing written between the lines and nothing you can’t understand. I hope someday you will fully understand us, 14 even if you don’t understand us now. Then on the day when the Lord Jesus returns, you will be proud of us in the same way we are proud of you.
15 Since I was so sure of your understanding and trust, I wanted to give you a double blessing by visiting you twice— 16 first on my way to Macedonia and again when I returned from Macedonia. Then you could send me on my way to Judea.
17 You may be asking why I changed my plan. Do you think I make my plans carelessly? Do you think I am like people of the world who say “Yes” when they really mean “No”? 18 As surely as God is faithful, our word to you does not waver between “Yes” and “No.” 19 For Jesus Christ, the Son of God, does not waver between “Yes” and “No.” He is the one whom Silas, Timothy, and I preached to you, and as God’s ultimate “Yes,” he always does what he says. 20 For all of God’s promises have been fulfilled in Christ with a resounding “Yes!” And through Christ, our “Amen” (which means “Yes”) ascends to God for his glory.
21 It is God who enables us, along with you, to stand firm for Christ. He has commissioned us, 22 and he has identified us as his own by placing the Holy Spirit in our hearts as the first installment that guarantees everything he has promised us.
23 Now I call upon God as my witness that I am telling the truth. The reason I didn’t return to Corinth was to spare you from a severe rebuke. 24 But that does not mean we want to dominate you by telling you how to put your faith into practice. We want to work together with you so you will be full of joy, for it is by your own faith that you stand firm.1 Corinthians 1 NLT (bold emphasis mine)
You Can Count on God’s Promises!
Where do you place your confidence? In the world? In people? In things? No. You put your confidence in God and God alone!
Yesterday I went hiking. And I got lost. Well, I knew where I was, technically in the park, but many of the trails are unmarked. I was trying to do a 2-2.5 mile hike in the easy to moderate trails, but I got lost and ended up going 3.5 miles and sometimes up some very rocky hills. I kept praying, Lord, give me the stamina and endurance to keep going. He sent a bicyclist to help get me on the right trail back to the parking area — thank you, Jesus! I made it out safely. Tired, but safe and happy! I’m going to stick to hiking the parks I’m familiar with. No more trailblazing for me!
My point is that it was an exercise in endurance. Faith is a fight. Christian living is not easy! We were never told that it was! We are told, however, that God is with us 24/7 to help us out when we need Him.
In verses 21 and 22, we’re told that God sent us the Holy Spirit as an “installment” or “deposit” (depending on which version you’re reading). The Greek word for “deposit” is the same word they used for “engagement”. We are the Bride of Christ. It’s interesting that the word for “engagement” in Spanish is promesa. An engaged gal would say that she is “prometida“.
God Keeps His Promises!
The wonderful concept to understand is that God keeps His promises! This passage reminded me of a worship song by Chris Tomlin and I’ve embedded the video below.
While I was a Catholic and a Progressive, I never had a relationship with God. I was going through the motions, but with no substance. I was a robot until He woke me up. And, believe me, it wasn’t easy!
Understand that these promises of God’s are for His Bride — the born-again Christian believers. Outsiders can try to find this stuff in cultural ideas, but those lead to empty lives and eventually to hell. That’s the truth!
If you’re not sure if you’re saved or not, if you truly want to be born again and have the assurance of salvation, receive the Holy Spirit, and get a 1-way, non-stop ticket to Heaven after you die, or that you won’t be left behind at the Rapture, this is what you have to do…