Today is our annual “Gift of Love Exchange”. We set apart this Sunday in winter as an opportunity to express our warm brotherly love and kindness for each other in Christ Jesus. The main idea is not about what you receive, but about demonstrating your love for others in this faith family. God loves the person who gives cheerfully (2 Cor 9:7c NLT). So then, enjoy giving cheerfully today!
In Second Corinthians, Paul is seeking to restore his relationship with his brothers and sisters in Christ, which had been damaged by their yielding to the ideas and attitudes of false teachers. Paul has defended his actions by linking God’s reliability to his, as Christ’s apostle, by reminding them that God is faithful in a greater to less form of argument. Now Paul uses this opportunity to expand on God’s faithfulness to them. The faithful God has acted and continues to act in us for our eternal salvation. At this point, it is beneficial for us to slow down our pace in listening to God’s voice in this letter. Here are some valuable truths for us to see, to enjoy, and to enrich our walk with the Lord together.
Today let’s focus on God’s confirmation of us. As you probably know, some churches have confirmation classes and rituals for people to go through. However, we do not. The reason is that confirmation is not a human act, but the ongoing action of our Sovereign God on us in reference to our union with Christ. What does this mean? Why is it important? Let’s meditate on this subject together.
I. God is the One who confirms us.
A. “God” in this context means “God the Father”. This is clear from the context.
1. Notice that all the Persons of the Trinity (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) are mentioned in this passage. Our salvation is by the action of the Triune God. Each of the Persons of the Godhead acts in conformity with their common purpose to save the elect in Jesus for their shared glory.
2. Here the emphasis is on God the Father. He does something to all believers in Christ or perhaps in reference to Christ. The idea is the Father acting “in our union with Christ” (Harris). God’s plan to save his chosen people is always in the sphere of union with Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Union with Christ is the central idea in salvation. “Every aspect of God’s relationship to believers is in some way connected to our relationship with Christ” (Grudem, Systematic Theology, p. 840, his emphasis).
Comment: For further study, see the handout.
B. The meaning and significance of “confirm”
1. The Greek word group was common legal terminology to talk about legally guaranteed security. For example, think about selling a piece of real estate. At some point the seller has to do something to guarantee that they own the property and have the right to sell it, regardless of any claims of ownership raised by others. So there is some kind of title insurance involved in the transfer of property.
2. God the Father continually confirms (present tense) believers in our relationship to Christ. We need this because of the attacks of the evil one, hostile people, and our own remaining sin. So against all the enemies and obstacles to a relationship with Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, the Father confirms that “these people are in Christ”. The Father is the One who makes the guarantee. Clearly, this provides confidence to us before God and with each other. The faithful God faithfully guarantees our union with Christ.
Apply: Satan will tempt us to doubt our saving relationship with the Lord Jesus. He does this to scare us and to disable us from making disciples, because you won’t be boldly making disciples when you doubt your own salvation. How can you say, “Deny yourself, take up your cross, follow Jesus, and he will give you eternal life and joy,” if you are not convinced that he will? How can you face suffering with joy in the Lord, if you are in doubts about your salvation? So this teaching has tremendous practical consequences.
II. God confirms us in Christ.
A. Consider the excellence of this union with Christ.
1. We stand in the righteousness of God in him (2 Cor 5:21; cf. Rm 5:1-2).
2. Therefore, all of us must look at other believers and ourselves in connection with Jesus Christ. Consider every believer as built on the Rock, not as wallowing in some swamp. Think of every believer as married to the Lord and Savior (Eph 5:22-33), not as divorced from him. Judge every believer as in vital union with the Head of the body, not as amputated from him.
Apply: This is one way to get off the treadmill of legalism. Others will fail, you will fail, but Jesus never fails!
B. Consider the superiority of this union with Christ. To borrow a word from Hebrews, Christ is better.
1. Christ is better than Adam. Adam stood in his own strength, by the power of his own will and fell to death and took the rest of us with him. But God confirms us in Jesus Christ the righteous.
2. Christ is better than the false hopes of unbelievers, because they have no hope (Eph 2:12). They are built on the sand (Lk 6:49).
3. Christ is better than the old covenant (Heb 8:6). Christ is the better mediator of a better covenant with better promises. In him we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken (Heb 12:28).
C. Consider the permanence of this union.
1. We are united to him, who is eternal and unchangeable (Rev 1:17-18; Heb 13:8).
2. We are united to him, whose covenant is eternal (Heb 13:20).
3. We are united to him, who always holds onto us (Jn 10:27-30).
Apply: Follower of Jesus, find your stability in your union with the Lord. Fix your thoughts on him.
III. God confirms us together in Christ.
Notice carefully the words of the text: “us with you”. In other words, all who really call on the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation (cf. Rm 10:13) are being confirmed together in Christ.
A. Paul uses inclusive language. This helps his dear friends in Corinth understand what God is doing for them. This rebuilds the bonds of love between them.
1. All true believers share in this ongoing work of God on our behalf, whether or not we understand what God is doing. Rejoice that we are not saved by perfect understanding. I remember the days of being a new Christian, when I was trying to figure out all that the grace of God in Christ meant to me. On day one, all I knew was that God abundantly pardons. And that was very good to know! But wow, I had so much to learn, and I am still learning more of Christ (cf. Ph 3:12-14). But from the first day, God has been confirming me in Christ with other believers.
2. The salvation of the newest or weakest or worst taught or most immature believer in Jesus will demonstrate the glory of God in his confirming work—and so will the salvation of the most mature or most zealously serving believer in Jesus.
B. This should transform how we view one another in any local gathering of Christ’s people. And then certainly, this view will lead us to express brotherly love to one another.
1. Each one receives life from their union with the Head of the church. Each one participates in the fullness of grace that is in Christ (Jn 1:16-17; Col 2:9-10). Christ is the life and the soul of the believer’s life and comfort.
2. A healthy believer values all this shared life and grace in Christ. “Here are people chosen by the Father, bought by the Son, and given life from above by the Spirit. I am part of a people that shine like stars in the universe (Ph 2:15). God lives in us, and I want to share life with these people!”
1. Let us join together in glorifying our Father in heaven for confirming us in Christ. This is a reason for worship.
2. Let us join together in sharing life with each other. God does not confirm us separate from each other. He confirms “us with you”. God intends for us to live for Christ together. You were not saved to waste your life by sitting alone in your living room. Invite others into your living room for a small group. Then you can get to know the Lord together, evangelize together, counsel together, pray together, care for others together, and plant new churches together. God confirms you in Christ to glorify him with others (Ps 34:3) and to make, baptize, and teach disciples together. You are part of Christ’s body; therefore, join the life of Christ’s body.