An Appeal

Friday, May 29, 2015, 12:28 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song, “I Will Lift My Eyes.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read 2 Corinthians 6:1-13 (ESV).

Be Obedient

Paul wrote this letter (2 Corinthians) to the church of God in Corinth, “together with all the saints throughout Achaia.” When Paul said “church of God,” though, he was not speaking of a Christian church denomination, a building (called a church), or an organization or a corporation of human origin and of the will of man (also called church). He was speaking of the body of believers in Jesus Christ who had been born of the Spirit of God by God’s grace, through faith in Jesus Christ. That faith involved repentance (turning from sin) and obedience to God (turning to God to follow him), for Jesus Christ “bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness” (1 Pet. 2:24). This body of Christ (the church) can meet together most any day, anytime and anywhere in the will of and for the purposes of God/Christ, and in the power of the Holy Spirit among them.

Paul indicated that he had made up his mind not to make another painful visit to them, i.e. to not come again to them in grief over unrepentant sins existing among them. He loved them so very much that it grieved him greatly when they, the body of Christ, sinned against God. He said, “The reason I wrote you was to see if you would stand the test and be obedient in everything” (2:9). He said, “We, who with unveiled faces reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit” (3:18). This transformation is ongoing (progressive). It is like the scripture teaches when it says we have been saved, we are being saved, and we will be saved. We are being made holy. We are daily putting to death the deeds of the body. We are no longer conducting our lives according to the sinful nature, but we are on a continuing (ongoing; progressive) course of conducting our lives according to the Spirit (See: Ro. 8:4).

Then he went on to talk about walking (conducting their lives) by faith and not by sight. He said “We make it our goal to please him,” meaning Christ, and then he reminded the believers that all of us, Christian and non-Christian, must appear before the judgment seat of Christ, “that each may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad” (5:10). This is not works-based salvation or us being brought back under the law. Yet, it is a reminder that James said, “Faith without works is dead.” Paul then reminded them that Jesus Christ died for all, “that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.” Our Christian life is not about “getting saved,” living how we want, and then going to heaven when we die. This whole letter is an appeal to the true church to live the life for which Jesus Christ gave his life for them. We are saved from sin that we might die to sin and live for righteousness.

Lastly, just prior to chapter 6, we read where he told them plainly that being in Christ means we are a new creation, not just a slightly cleaned up old one so that we look better on the outside. He reminded them that this means that our old lives of living for sin and self were done away with at the cross of Christ, and that we have been given completely new lives to be lived in the Spirit, for God, in obedience and surrender to his will for our lives, for his glory and for his purposes, and in Christ’s righteousness and holiness. And, on that basis, he implored them to be reconciled to God, not to be “born again” again, but to change, and to become like Jesus “in true righteousness and holiness,” to which they were created by God when they were given new birth in Christ Jesus, by God’s grace, through faith in him. He was basically appealing to them to walk (conduct their lives) in a manner worthy of their calling from Christ; worthy of the gospel of Christ (Eph. 4:1; Phil. 1:27).

Not In Vain

Working together with him, then, we appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain. 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.

So, what he is telling the church, I believe, is that they must continue in Christ, and they must continue to put to death the deeds of the body, dying daily to sin and self, and they must walk (conduct their lives) in obedience to their Lord or else they will have received God’s grace to them in vain, i.e. it will be ineffective and unproductive in their lives. From what I understand of scripture, a person can be a believer in Jesus Christ and still sin against God (See: 1 Jn. 2:1-2), but that Jesus died to put sin to death in our lives, so we don’t have to give in to sin, for he has made a way of escape for us. We just have to take it. If a believer in Christ could not possibly sin against God, then there would have been no need for much of the writings of the New Testament which were clearly, in many cases, written to those who had been “sealed for the day of redemption” (See: Eph. 4:30), and in which they were instructed to get rid of sin and to live godly and holy lives instead.

When we understand that our salvation is progressive, that it has a beginning, a middle (ongoing) and an end (a day of completion - future), I believe it helps us understand what this is teaching us. We must understand that eternal life is promised only to the one who believes (present tense), i.e. who is presently believing on Jesus Christ. What this means is that we are not guaranteed life in Christ Jesus, or heaven when we die, on the basis of past belief. Scripture says “the one who is believing,” not “the one who once believed.” If we don’t continue in Christ, and if we don’t remain in him and in his Word (in his teachings), then we are not his disciples; we are cut off from the vine; we are not truly saved; and we have not come to share in Christ, etc. (See: John 8:31-32; Romans 11:17-24; I Co 15:2; Col 1:21-23; II Tim 2:10-13; Hebrews 3:6, 14-15; 2 Pet. 1:5-11; I John 2:24-25).

Jesus Christ “condemned sin in sinful man,” not just so we could escape hell and have the promise of heaven when we die, but “in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live (conduct our lives) according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit” (See: Ro. 8:3-14).

Open Your Hearts

We put no obstacle in anyone's way, so that no fault may be found with our ministry, but as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: by great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities, beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless nights, hunger; by purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, the Holy Spirit, genuine love; by truthful speech, and the power of God; with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left; through honor and dishonor, through slander and praise. We are treated as impostors, and yet are true; as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold, we live; as punished, and yet not killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, yet possessing everything.

We have spoken freely to you, Corinthians; our heart is wide open. You are not restricted by us, but you are restricted in your own affections. In return (I speak as to children) widen your hearts also.

The apostles did not speak out of impure motives. They were not fly-by-night, slick, forked-tongued and smooth speaking preachers who passed themselves off as ministers of the gospel of Christ. They walked the talk. They lived what they preached. They went through many hardships and persecutions for the gospel of Christ so that they could see many people come to faith in Christ, and so they could see the church of Christ, his body, grow and mature in their relationships with their Lord and in their walks of faith and obedience to their Lord Jesus. Paul loved the church. He grieved when they sinned against God. He opened his heart to them, gave himself to them, and spent himself on their behalf over and over again in order to see them walk in the truth, and to live holy lives pleasing to God.

So, his appeal to them was not only for them to live for the Lord, and to forsake sin, but that they would receive what he was saying to them in the Spirit of love in which it was given, and that they would reciprocate by opening their hearts to him, and by not rejecting him and the message. The truth is not always received well, even when given in love and in the power of the Spirit within us. Some people just won’t agree with us, or might not like what we have to say. Yet, certainly it is possible that we have some things wrong, and so we should always be open and teachable to hear from God, and to do the homework, and to see if maybe we have been misled. We need to not ignore scriptures just because they don’t fit with our theology, or because they make us uncomfortable, or because they might require something of us that we don’t want to do, or that we feel we shouldn’t have to do. We should search the scriptures daily so that we can know and can do the will of God.

I Will Lift My Eyes / An Original Work / December 12, 2012
Based off Psalms 121-125

I will lift my eyes to my Lord Most High.
My help comes from Him, who saved me from sin.
He will not let your foot slip, and He who watches will not sleep.
Our Lord watches over you, and your life He will keep.
I will lift my eyes to my Lord Most High.
My help comes from Him, who saved me from sin.
I give thanks to Him.

I will lift my eyes to my God in heav’n.
I look to the Lord. My sins, He’s forgiv’n.
Because of His great love for us, He made us alive with Christ.
Through the kindness of our Savior, He gave us new life.
I will lift my eyes to my God in heav’n.
I look to the Lord. My sins, He’s forgiv’n;
My home, now in heav’n.

Praise be to the Lord, who is on our side.
Our help found in Him. He gives peace within.
Those who trust will ne’er be shaken. God will supply all we need.
Our Lord has done great things for us. He’s our friend, indeed!
Praise be to the Lord, who is on our side.
Our help found in Him. He gives peace within.
I can count on Him.