Series: 2 Corinthians
2 Corinthians 6:1-10 SEV
Working together with him, then, we appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain. 2 For he says,
“In a favorable time I listened to you,
and in a day of salvation I have helped you.”
Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation. 3 We put no obstacle in anyone’s way, so that no fault may be found with our ministry, 4 but as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: by great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities, 5 beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless nights, hunger; 6 by purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, the Holy Spirit, genuine love; 7 by truthful speech, and the power of God; with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left; 8 through honor and dishonor, through slander and praise. We are treated as impostors, and yet are true; 9 as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold, we live; as punished, and yet not killed; 10 as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, yet possessing everything.
Palm Sunday is a time for celebration! On that day Jesus set in motion a sequence of events that began with him accepting honor due a king (Mk 11:1-10). This led to his arrest, suffering, and death on the cross, and also to his resurrection and ascension with even greater glory. The Lord acted in human history to bring about the day of salvation. As we saw in chapter five of 2 Corinthians, by his death on the cross, Jesus Christ made possible reconciliation and righteousness—two of the great blessings of salvation.
We now live in the day of salvation, the time of God’s favor. The Lord Jesus has bridged the gap between the holy God and sinful people; he has provided the way we can be right with God. As he thought about this great truth, the apostle Paul sensed his responsibility to make the good news known to his readers. Let us listen to what he says.
I. A second appeal
A. Paul presents this appeal with a sense of authority.
1. He speaks as God’s co-worker. He has already said that God was making his appeal through him (5:20). When we speak as Christ’s ambassadors, we deliver his message with his authority. This means that we can both urge and warn people. The message of grace is good news, if you accept it. But if you reject the message, it only increases your judgment.
2. He speaks with urgency. Paul seeks to persuade people. When we tell others the message of God’s grace, we ought to display some intensity. We are not giving a recap of batting averages of baseball players during spring training. We are telling people matters of life or death. While we ought to speak with kindness and compassion, people must sense the serious nature of this subject through us. It is not “take it or leave”, but “my friend, I urge you to turn to Jesus Christ and to trust him for salvation.”
B. Paul presents this appeal with a word of warning. People can receive the good news of God’s great salvation to no profit or no purpose. There can be an empty reception. As he speaks to those in Corinth, we can observe three ways people can receive the message in an empty manner.
1. People can listen to the message of grace and not sense its greatness. Paul has been laboring to stress that glory, surpassing value and magnificence, is found in Christ and the gospel.
2. People can listen to the message of grace and not break away from idolatry. Paul will shortly point out this danger (6:14-7:1). You cannot walk with God and away from God at the same time.
3. People can listen to the message of grace and turn aside to follow false teachers (11:1-15). Satan opposes the gospel message, and he has his deceitful workers. The enemy of human souls is set on destroying people.
Apply: For such reasons, we must not be careless. It makes sense to examine yourself and ask, “Is my response to the grace of the gospel consistent with its message?” Last week when the water line came apart in the parsonage, the first action I took was to shut off the water to that line. And then when our guys were cleaning up the water, they poured it down the drain and not back on the floor. Is your response to the gospel consistent with God’s purpose in the gospel?
II. Confirmation from the Scriptures
A. This quotation sets forth the serious nature of the truth being presented. Paul wants them to understand fully that what he says is God’s appeal and agrees with what God already has said.
1. The Bible tells us of God’s plan to bring glory to himself through his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, by the salvation Christ accomplished. God wants us to know and embrace and enjoy the wonder of his grace in Christ. God has given me the privilege of seeing many beautiful places in this world, like the Grand Canyon. When you view a sight like that, you enjoy it and you want to share the joy with others. “Come look at this!” But far greater, indescribably greater, is the glory of God in rescuing people dead in sin from eternal destruction to bring them to eternal life and joy!
2. The passage Paul quotes is Isaiah 49:8, which is from the second of the Servant Songs in Isaiah. In it God speaks about the salvation that he will bring to completion through his Servant, the Messiah. God will bring about a great restoration, not only for the remnant of Israel, but also for those called from the nations.
B. A closer look at the passage quoted
1. God has noticed and extended help to us in woeful need. It is something he wanted to do; he delights in showing grace and mercy.
2. God acted at his time. God works on a cosmic scale and all events happen on his timetable to secure his glory and our good in the best way possible.
3. God shows grace in a very personal way. Notice the “I and you” form. True Christianity is all about what is personal and relational. God’s interest is in really helping people, not in counting noses to make his statistics look good.
4. God keeps his word. What God promised, he has fulfilled. This might take many years. From the time of Isaiah to the coming of Jesus was 700 years. Therefore, we should not become discouraged and impatient. God sent his Son in the fullness of time (Gal 4:4). Jesus will come back at the time appointed by the Father (Mt 24:36). Christ is saving a people from all nations (Rev 5:9-10). When Christ’s bride is ready, then he will return in power and great glory.
Apply: Based on God’s plan, Paul urges a right reception of God’s grace. Have you received it properly?
III. A reason for encouragement
A. The reason stated—we live in the time of God’s favor, in the day of salvation!
1. God’s plan in history moves through six phases. It started in creation, allowed human rebellion, promised salvation, accomplished salvation, spreads the good news of salvation, and will bring about a full restoration that is better by far. We now live in phase five of God’s plan. Christ has ascended, the Spirit has been poured out, and we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. This is a great time to live. We could have been in ancient Egypt, vainly building a tomb for some Pharaoh. Or we could have lived in the wilds of America thousands of years ago in terrible debauchery. Or we could have lived in some forsaken wilderness of Asia worshiping some evil idol. So many people lived and died, constantly suppressing the knowledge of God (Rm 1:18-25) without hope and without God in the world (Eph 2:12).
2. But one day Jesus Christ came. He lived among people, told people the good news, showed his ability to save by many miraculous signs, and then died and rose again to save those given to him by the Father. And over nearly 2000 years, this message has been spreading all over the world. Now! Now! Now! Does your heart leap at this glorious word? The promised time of God’s favor is now! The day when God helps people in salvation is now!
B. A call to listen – “I tell you”. We could also translate this word as “Look!” or “Listen!”
1. Paul wants his readers intently focused on the glory of this message of grace. He calls us to set our thoughts on it and to give it our full attention. It is not some kind of email spam sent out to suck in the overcurious. As Christ’s ambassador, he demands our attention.
2. This is far from the “take it or leave”, shrug of the shoulders, couldn’t care less yawning that has poisoned the souls of people in our land. Our people are so distracted by entertainment that you could hardly get them off their mobile entertainment device if a volcano suddenly erupted in their backyard or a tornado was coming down their street. It is time for us to regain the urgency of true Christianity that has a very radical message.
Apply: Does God have your attention? Are you a stranger to grace and to God? Or do you know the living Lord of glory? Today may be the day of salvation for you. As Christ’s ambassador, I urge you to turn to the Lord Jesus Christ and to trust him for salvation, righteousness, and eternal life.
[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]http://christmycovenant.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/frampton-dave.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]Pastor Dave Frampton: When push comes to shove there is usually nothing more satisfying than for a saint of God to have at his or her disposal a source of biblically sound instruction in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The faithful and spiritually profitable labors of Dave Frampton are here at CMC to be a blessing. Bible teacher and student alike will profit much from his labor in the God’s Word. Visit Newtown Square Baptist Church[/author_info] [/author] [button link=”http://www.newtownsquarebaptist.org/” color=”red” newwindow=”yes”] Visit Newtown Square Baptist Church[/button]