2 Corinthians 4:13-15
Greetings, everyone! Welcome to Monday’s edition of EDiBS! It’s good to be back with you on this first day of our week together, and my prayer is that as the Lord goes before us today and in the coming days that He so chooses to give us, this will be a great study week for us and an even greater time of knowing, claiming, and being comforted by the love and promises of God. Thanks so much for being here; let’s pray as we return to the Scriptures, continuing today with 2 Corinthians 4.
Almighty God, we praise and thank you today for the beginning of a new week, full of your mercy, full of your good and gracious promises, and full of times of refreshing in your Word. Bless us as we study the Scriptures over these next several minutes, and cause us to grow and be strengthened in our faith as a result. We ask this with joy and confidence in Jesus’ name, amen.
As we get started today, Paul shares one of the key reasons as to why he maintains confidence in his call to the ministry of the gospel. Our focus: Christ has been raised – and one day, so shall we!
2 Corinthians 4:13-15
13It is written: "I believed; therefore I have spoken." With that same spirit of faith we also believe and therefore speak, 14because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you in his presence. 15All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.
I am sometimes asked what it is that drives me to do what I do. I suppose there are a number of ways I could answer that, and frankly, the answer I give may differ a bit from day to day depending on how the question is framed. When it’s all said and done, however, it comes down to this: I do what I do because I can’t help but do it. I am compelled. My life is so wrapped up in a belief in and dependence upon the Word of God and its promises that the hope I have simply has to be expressed.
It started in high school, oddly enough, with an oral book report for English class. Calvin Miller’s classic work called The Singer had been left lying around the house by my grown-up sister, and I picked it up and started reading one day, having no idea who Calvin Miller was or that his book was a famous poetic rendering of the life, death, and resurrection of Christ. It got ahold of me as I read it, and when I presented the story in class, I did so without really thinking about any kind of Christian witness. But there was a stunned silence when I finished. Evidently, people didn’t talk about Jesus like that in a public high school. Yet for me it was a very natural expression of my faith, and I have to say that at the time I didn’t realize what an avant-garde, politically incorrect thing I had done. I believed, and therefore I spoke.
Through the years that overarching principle in my life has remained a constant. And these days, whether it’s preaching on a Sunday morning, teaching at a conference, or writing and filming for EDiBS, it always comes down to the same thing. I’m not an outstanding evangelist. I’m not an over the top, Joe Cool, Super-Spiritual Christian Guy. I don’t have it all together in life. Furthermore, I don’t walk in victory 24 hours a day and I don’t always get what God is doing in my life and why. If anything, I’m constantly aware of my sin and how incredibly far I fall short of the glory of God. But to the very core of who I am, to the very greatest depth of my being, the gospel is everything to me — and I will take my stand on it regardless of what comes my way in this life. I believe...and therefore I speak. And I would do it whether I was a pastor or not.
Verses 13-14: In today’s reading, Paul the apostle is speaking for himself and his ministry companions as he asserts something similar, but on a much greater level and with far more strength of conviction than what I’ve just shared with you with regard to my life: because of the life, death, and especially the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ, Paul has absolute confidence in both the truth of his message and in the outcome it will bring. Since Christ has risen – and Paul, remember, has been an eyewitness of the risen Lord Jesus – and since the Lord will also raise us from the dead, Paul and his partners in the gospel will be bold to speak, no matter what may happen to them as a result.
That point is a deeply significant one to make, because through quoting the 116th Psalm in verse 13, Paul is making clear, just as the psalmist did, that he is speaking from the midst of personal pain and trouble brought on by accusers. And yet the resolution to the psalmist’s tribulation is beautiful: “How can I repay the LORD for all his goodness to me? I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the LORD. I will fulfill my vows to the LORD in the presence of all his people.” Paul is doing very much the same thing here as he commits himself to the fullness of his ministry, and as we’ve seen multiple times in this portion of the letter and will continue to see in verses to come, his commitment is unflagging. Come hell or high water, he is intent on remaining steadfast in the proclamation of the truth and in guiding and leading the churches under his care – including the church at Corinth – into that truth.
Verse 15: And that brings us, incidentally, to verse 15. Why is Paul so intent on speaking the truth? Why do he and his ministry companions put up with abuse and hardship and danger and mockery and every other kind of difficulty as they go about preaching Christ and Him crucified? They do it for the benefit of their hearers. They do it so that God’s kingdom will continue to be expanded as more and more people hear and believe. They do it so that as God’s grace abounds to more and more people, thanksgiving for so great a salvation will also abound to the glory of God. Simply put, Paul and his partners preach and teach and strive and labor in order that people will be saved and God be glorified.
Wrapping things up for the day, Paul’s clear expression of faith here is one that is comforting to me, and hopefully comforting to you as well. Such is his confidence that we will be raised into the presence of Christ, such is his confidence that death cannot hold us, and such is his confidence that our eternal home in heaven is as sure and certain and plain as day for all who believe, that nothing will keep him from proclaiming the wonder and beauty of it all. He is driven to his task not simply because of his direct call from God, but also because he is without any doubt in his conviction regarding the reality of which he speaks. Paul is on his way to heaven – and in the words of Robert Olson, a man I deeply admire and look to as one of the great encouragers in my life, he’s going to take as many people with him as he can!
May you and I be comforted and bolstered by that strong expression of faith from the Scriptures today, and may we in turn take it as our own. God’s peace everybody – have a terrific day, and I’ll see you next time!