Our Responsibility of Grace- Episode 21
Teaching Thursdays With Kevin Morris
Why does God allow suffering? And if God has promised us eternal life, why are we left in a broken world after becoming Christians? In today’s episode, we answer these two important questions by looking to 2 Corinthians 6. In that passage, Paul tells us not to receive the grace of God in vain. Instead, we must live with our responsibility of grace. And what place has God designated for us to do this? Trials.
Our Responsibility of Grace
When it comes to Paul’s relationship with the Corinthians, many of us are aware of the content of 1st Corinthians. But as is the case with most New Testament letters, those that have two or more in title (Thessalonians, Timothy, Peter, John, etc…) are often neglected, one over another.
In the case of Corinthians, it is 2nd Corinthians that is the neglected one, especially in our ability to grasp the big picture of Paul’s message. Chapter 6 is an important chapter in the letter that helps us to do this. I’ve titled Paul’s thesis in this chapter as “Our Responsibility of Grace”. There are two main points that I want to show you from Paul’s words, and we’ll look at the whole chapter to see these.
True Reality- 2 Corinthians 6:1-2
2nd Corinthians is written specifically with a deep heart of desire. This comes to us in a foreign way, because it is not as explicitly a deep theology or a life application letter in the same way as other books in the New Testament. But the problem is not with the book itself. Our problem is actually that we don’t resonate with the book as we should.
If I were to pull you aside and ask you “what is the point of your life” I am confident that your default will be (your job, your family in general, financial goals, bills coming due, future vacation, vacations now ended [welcome back to reality])
Speaking of reality, who has seen the newest hype of the last couple years, the VR glasses? As interesting as these glasses are, they paint a false reality- they are a virtual reality.
Our problem is that we are Christians are living with VR glasses, blind to God’s reality- true reality of and in Jesus Christ. It is this reality that Paul wants us to see. Paul says that we must consider our responsibility of grace. First, he quotes Isaiah 49:8 to tell us of this responsibility. Next, he applies this time of grace/favor as “today”.
But we aren’t thinking about today, we are thinking about yesterday, tomorrow, and eternity (we forget about today). Although this “today” has an evangelistic tone, Paul is talking to believers, so there is a here and now application of it, not conversion.
Our Endurance in Trying Circumstances- 2 Corinthians 6:3-13
How would you answer this question: What is the goal of a believer? Paul’s answer is found in verse 3.
Think with me for a minute: We are living. We are believers. But God has not taken us to glory. Why not? The answer is found back in 5:18-20 of this book. How do you see God making his appeal to the world through you? That is true reality for us. We are his ambassadors and representatives.
We may assume this means pastors and preachers. But Paul goes a different direction entirely. How are we servants of this responsibility of grace? Next Paul speaks of our endurance in trying circumstances (v.4-5). This illustrates our need for endurance. How has God equipped us for this responsibility? Through the means of endurance (v.6-7)
Everyone goes through enduring times and everyone can get through enduring times– but not everyone can do so in purity, the Holy Spirit, patience, etc. We have not been called to survival, we have been called to communicate and demonstrate who he is. This is why God does not take away out trials. He has called us to a responsibility of the grace given to us.
Our Separation from Unholy Environments- 2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1
What comes to mind when you hear the phrase ‘Unequally yoked’? The problem with our Bible culture is that we automatically default this phrase to meaning the prospects of marriage. While this is a fair application and something spoken to in other areas in the Bible, I don’t think this is explicitly concerning marriage. And we wrongly only associate this phrase to marriage.
We could turn our attention to the escapism movement found in the Amish tradition or the cults such as Jim Jones. But Jesus’ priestly prayer in John 17 shows that “I do not ask that you take them out of this world but that you keep them from the evil one”. Moreover, we are sent into the world by Christ.
The idea of being unequally yoked is a refusal to separate ourselves to the life God has called us to. There are some key words: Partnership, fellowship, accord/relationship, portion, agreement. All these words have to do with our relationship unto God. Rom. 12.1-2
We are his temple- the dwelling place of God. These realities are fulfilled in heaven- but they start “Today”!
Finally, 7:1 shows us that the call to separation is a call to holiness and the putting away of sin. Therefore, our responsibility of grace is our call to sanctification. Grace is directly related to sanctification. Grace is not a synonym for forgiveness, it is the gift of what we don’t deserve. And the gift is not an escape from the punishment of sin, but also the prevailing power of sin (sanctification).
We are the temple of God- when we get to heaven? No. Today
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