2 Corinthians 9:8 ESV
And God is able to make all grace abound to you,
so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times,
you may abound in every good work.
In chapters eight and nine of this letter, the apostle Paul is encouraging the Corinthian believers to complete their promised collection that will be part of a large gift for the needy believers in Judea. As he provides this encouragement, he gives the largest teaching section in the NTS about giving. What he says here is applicable not only to giving financially, but also to the giving of ourselves for the benefit of others. Remember the B in our acrostic BLESS.
In today’s message, the apostle wants his readers to understand that God is with us in this spiritual action. We must always keep this idea in our minds about the Christian life. Our Lord and Savior has not left his beloved bride, the church, to struggle alone in the world. Instead, he outfits us for ministry for the glory of God. Father, Son, and Holy Spirit partner with us to fulfill his purposes. So then, let us drink in the encouragement that the Lord gives us to give in these words of the Holy Scriptures.
I. The source of power to give for others (9:8a)
A. God himself has the ability.
1. God’s direct work in his people is a theme in this letter (1:4, 9-10, 21-22; 2:12, 14; 3:3, 6, 18; 4:7; 5:18-19; 7:6; 8:1; 10:4; 12:9; 13:4).
2. As people who live after Christ’s resurrection and ascension, we ought to act in faith on the reality of God’s power in us (Eph 1:18-23).
B. God energizes his people with overflowing grace. The idea of “overflowing” or “abounding” is found six times in chapters eight and nine and the word “grace” is found ten times! The Holy Spirit clearly wants us to grasp what new covenant life should be.
1. God is behind every grace that we experience. “The phrase ‘all grace’ is quite broad in scope, covering the material blessings and the spiritual motivation to share them” (Garland). It is common for people to focus on the situation they are in now. The Lord wants his people to approach life in a different manner. You have what you have because of God’s grace. God wants you to give out of what he has currently given to you. God is able to give you the strength, compassion, kindness, and gentleness to give for his glory and the good of others.
2. We ought to seek to live with overflowing grace. This is what our walk with the Lord should display. This requires trust that the Lord overflows with grace and desires us to live accordingly. The same overflowing grace that is ours in justification (Rm 5:20-21) is also available as we give for the good of others.
Illustration: Consider the trials we had with our parade float this year. The polar bear seemed to do quite well. But the igloo had to be rebuilt at least three times. One of the supports for the mural fell off along the route. The painting on the back was blown off it. The canopy over the equipment came apart. A couple penguins were given to spectators. But at the end, at the judges’ stand, our float was awarded “First Prize” and “Best of Show”. My brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ, that is what will happen to us. We might be bruised and battered and seemingly about to fall apart, but because we are in Christ and have his righteousness credited to us by grace through faith, we will be judged “First Prize” and “Best of Show”. Show that confidence in your daily walk with the Lord.
Apply: If you do not yet know the Lord, come to Christ and receive overflowing grace!
II. The kind of power to give for others (9:8b)
A. Powerful grace for all situations
1. The situation immediately before the Corinthian church was completing their promised contribution for the Judean believers—Christians that they had never met and were unlikely to meet in this world. Consider how we have given over the years to help people in Africa, India, and the Caribbean! Such giving has tested our faith and stretched our thin financial resources. We have chosen to do without in order that others might be helped. The church in Corinth was facing one of those situations. Paul wants to them to think about this question: Is the grace of God powerful enough to enable us to give generously to help other believers?
2. The American church finds itself in desperate need now. Many churches are facing hard times merely to keep their doors open. Many churches have trimmed back their giving to missionaries to the point of embarrassment. Most seem powerless to go out into the world with the good news of Jesus Christ. Many are wandering from the faith because they refused to live by faith many years ago. Yet the word of God says, “In all things”! It is time to pick up the shield of faith and take the fight to the enemy of our souls.
B. Powerful grace at all times
1. God always provides us with the resources to give. Remember the earlier example of grace in the Macedonian churches (8:1-5). “It is no secret what God can do. What he’s done for others, he’ll do for you.”
Comment: When you read a book of the Bible, don’t forget what you read in previous parts when you reach the middle of the book. The Spirit of God builds truth on truth. Once in a while, read a whole book at a time, and I’m not referring to Obadiah, Philemon, 2 & 3 John, and Jude!
2. There is never a time that we cannot be generous to others. This can seem like an impossibility! But the word of God says, “Always”. Here is encouragement for when you pick up your pen to write your check. It is also encouragement for the times when you physically feel that you have nothing left to give.
C. Powerful grace to supply all we need
1. Paul borrows the word that is translated by the phrase “everything you need” from the Greek Stoics and Cynics. They used it to talk proudly about the person who was self-sufficient apart from others and quite self-content. Paul uses the word differently. For Paul, sufficiency come from God’s resources and dependence upon him. In other words, it is “Christ-sufficiency. Also, “everything you need” does not simply mean “everything you need for yourself” but “what you need for yourself and to give to others.”
2. Our problem is with the “what we need”. God doesn’t supply a simple, formulaic answer to a question about “how much do I need?” Instead, he expects us as his adult sons and daughters in Christ by the word and the Spirit to figure it out. What he does what us to put into our discernment is his ability to supply our true needs (Ph 4:19).
Apply: This area of life can provide us with a very fruitful topic of conversation with our Father in heaven! It is something to “pray in the Spirit” about. And how much it reveals the need for our Great Intercessor, the Lord Jesus!
III. The purpose for power to give to others (9:8c)
A. God gives us his power in order that we might do works for the benefit of others. Whatever we have received is to be passed on as we do good works. This is at the base of the new creation (Eph 2:8-10). (Please quote all three verses together!)
1. We absolutely must understand this. Sadly and to our own detriment, western Christians have read the Scriptures in far too much an individualistic way. Certainly, each of us must personally and individually trust Christ as our own Lord and Savior. However, when we are saved, we are baptized into the body of Christ (1 Cor 12:12-13). From that point on, we are to act for the benefit of others, especially for our brothers and sisters in Christ. God does not give us grace to enjoy ourselves in isolation from others or enrich us that we might satisfy ourselves. Any spiritual gift that you receive is not given that you might be praised and honored by others but that you might put it into action for the glory of the Risen Christ.
2. The Lord has a mission for each of us. Every believer’s mission is shaped by the written word of God, the presence of the Holy Spirit, your place in the temple of the living God, your spiritual gifts and personal abilities, and the events of God’s providence. Since we are in an affluent suburban setting, how this mission works out will be very different than being in a rural or urban setting.
Apply: Invest the next few weeks in identifying the needs in our community. During the last two weeks, we have demonstrated our presence here. Next, we need to make use of it for the good of many others outside.
B. God desires that we might overflow or excel with beneficial actions.
1. Ah, this is where it becomes very difficult! To talk about doing good to others and actually doing something might seem to stretch our feeble resources to the limits. I think I can hear someone silently objecting, “Pastor, I just can’t do more!” Uh, I can understand what you’re saying. But let me ask you, have you ever read Numbers 13-14? They failed to trust the Lord and were doomed to die in the wilderness!
2. Our text requires the supernatural, all-powerful grace of the Sovereign Lord! You and I cannot overflow in every good work apart from the almighty power of the Ascended Christ. Thankfully, that grace is ours, if we will believe the Lord.
Apply: From first to last, the real Christian life is a life of faith in Jesus Christ—crucified, risen, ascended, and coming again! Our problems are not outside us and the solutions inside us. Our problems start in our hearts, and the solution is in the Lord Jesus Christ. Turn your eyes upon Jesus!
Pastor Dave Frampton
The faithful and spiritually profitable labors of Dave Frampton are featured here at CMC. As a Bible teacher he excels. Teachers and student alike will profit much from his labor in the God’s Word. Visit Newtown Square Baptist Church.