2021-07-04 – 2 Corinthians 13:1-13 – The Mature Faith Test
Click Here to watch the sermon video – https://www.facebook.com/FirstBaptistChurchOrion/videos/242660117366650
Good morning everyone. It is so nice to be able to spend some time with you all in fellowship with the Lord. Thank you and God bless you for being with us today.
Happy 4th of July everyone. As many are celebrating our countries Independence today, I am reminded that although we now live in what is referred to as “The Land of the Free”, there has been, and will be much cost to bare to keep it free. I have been blessed to travel all around this world, and I can say with confidence that America is a most amazing country. I love this country, and I know that although we are far from perfect, we have much to be thankful for. I believe that our country was initially founded much upon Christian principles and values, and although we have witnessed some significant changes and challenges over the years, many of those same Christian principles still exist today. Regardless of which side of the political isle you reside, when we choose to apply God’s Word and God’s Will to the situations we face, He is glorified, and thus we might continue to be a blessed nation indeed. So as “IN GOD WE TRUST” is still our nations motto, May God bless you, God bless this church, and God bless America.
Today will be our last sermon message from the Bible letter-book of Second Corinthians. In this letter we have witnessed Paul speak about joy, sorrow, comfort, concern, humility, pride, instruction, conviction, and experience, just to name a few. I have a graphic that shows the breakdown and the titles for the messages that the Holy Spirit helped me to write and deliver. My prayer is that by going through the bible in this exegetical fashion, that we might gain a better understanding of God’s word. So then we might apply it to our faith walk, but also so that it becomes familiar to you. So that next time you sit down to read Second Corinthians, it will be like an old friend to you.
God desires that we learn to appreciate this wonderful Owner’s Manual for life. According to 2nd Timothy 3:16, the Bible was “breathed out” by God for us. Humanly speaking, God has employed approximately 40 men of diverse backgrounds over the course of 1500 years to get us to the point where we now enjoy this cannon of God’s Holy Word. I hope you can appreciate that. I hope that you learn to love God’s Word and that it truly becomes a lamp onto your feet.
My job as your Pastor, according to 2nd Timothy 2:15 is to “make every effort to present yourself approved to God, an unashamed workman who accurately handles the word of truth”. And my goal and purpose is to prepare you all to do the same. This Holy Bible of ours is not supposed to be gathering dust on the shelf, it is intended to be our primary “Go To” for what life brings to bear on us. Are you with me in this? Good! Then let us get busy.
Please turn now to 2 Corinthians 13:1, page 1030 in your pew Bibles, which we call God’s Inspired, Infallible and Living Word. Prayer..
In last week’s scripture verses from chapter 12, Paul declared that he would “most gladly spend and be spent” for the Corinthian believers. In that, I would suggested that we too should consider it a joy to be used by God for His purpose and pleasure. That we too should be willing “to spend and be spent” for the glory of the Lord. In these last chapter verses we will read today, Paul is preparing the Corinth church believers for his next return visit to them. He conveyed some concern that they might not be in a good position morally or spiritually to receive him. He continues in that thought starting at verse one here:
13 This is the third time I am coming to you. Every matter must be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses. 2 I gave a warning when I was present the second time, and now I give a warning while I am absent to those who sinned before and to all the rest: If I come again, I will not be lenient, 3 since you seek proof of Christ speaking in me.
In this conclusion of Paul’s last letter to the Corinth believers, Paul starts out a little direct, but we will see at the end that he closes with loving encouragement. Here, Paul is completing a thought that he related in the last paragraph, where he chided them for some poor and lingering behaviors. Paul suggests here that just as he is intending to visit them a third time, that it takes three witnesses to prove-out an accusation (which was a law according to the Old Testament). Paul was now coming to them on this third trip to address directly that sin. He is hoping though, that this letter of warning will cause them to finally clean-house if you will, so that he wouldn’t have to tarnish his visit in having to deal with that lingering situation. We all struggle with sin at times, but when it starts becoming such an obstacle that others are pulled into the quagmire, then it has to be dealt with directly. It isn’t a pleasant thing to do, but deal with it we must.
Sometimes a leader has to do the hard things. Leading isn’t always pleasant, leading isn’t always fun and games. As Paul conveys here in these last verses, the proof of his “Jesus appointed” apostleship, that they are seeking by the way, may have to be shown through scriptural church discipline. Verse 3 continues:
He is not weak in dealing with you, but powerful among you. 4 For he was crucified in weakness, but he lives by the power of God. For we also are weak in him, but in dealing with you we will live with him by God’s power.
Again, Paul is making the statement here that it is time to deal with this sinful situation according to God’s power and authority. Paul is relating that as Jesus demonstrated on the cross the meekness of a lamb, make no mistake, He is God and He has the power of God, and that power was revealed in His resurrection. Paul too may have appeared meek and mild when it came to leading the Corinth believers, but he also has the power of God in him through Christ. If they wanted proof of Paul’s authority as being their spiritual leader, they may get exactly what they are asking for now through discipline. He didn’t desire to show that side of leadership but if necessary he could and he would. Then in verse 5 he writes:
5 Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith. Examine yourselves. Or do you yourselves not recognize that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless you fail the test. 6 And I hope you will recognize that we ourselves do not fail the test. 7 But we pray to God that you do nothing wrong—not that we may appear to pass the test, but that you may do what is right, even though we may appear to fail. [SLIDE] 8 For we can’t do anything against the truth, but only for the truth. 9 We rejoice when we are weak and you are strong. We also pray that you become fully mature. 10 This is why I am writing these things while absent, so that when I am there I may not have to deal harshly with you, in keeping with the authority the Lord gave me for building up and not for tearing down.
Paul wanted them, as spiritual leaders, to deal with this matter of sin themselves. That is what we all should strive to do. When we witness sin, or are pray to sin, God wants us to deal with it. We shouldn’t let things linger to the point that it has the ability to take hold, then become part of the character of the individual or the character of the church body. I am not suggesting that we be like a quick-trigger revolver in every situation; take no prisoner, shoot-first attitude. No, that is not the God’s grace and mercy example that Jesus demonstrated at all. But when a sin issue becomes evident, and is not dealt with at the lower echelons, then it can fester and become a greater problem and perhaps leave more casualties in its wake. Each of us have a responsibility to protect our fellowship so that sin doesn’t squelch our effectiveness. We need each other to remain strong in the service to our Lord and His calling on our life and our church body. We are in this together.
At the start of these last verses, Paul wrote “Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith”. How many of you liked getting tests back in school? I hated most tests that is for sure, and that was evident in my grades as well. But here Paul says we should test ourselves to see if we are in the faith. To be frank, many of us would rather like to put others to the test to see if they are faithful. To see if they are walking the talk and standing up to our view of morality. This also reminds me though of the one of the most misquoted bible verses, “Do not judge” [SLIDE]
“Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. 2 For you will be treated as you treat others. The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged.
3 “And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own? 4 How can you think of saying to your friend, ‘Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,’ when you can’t see past the log in your own eye? 5 Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye.
6 “Don’t waste what is holy on people who are unholy. Don’t throw your pearls to pigs! They will trample the pearls, then turn and attack you.
The key verse in all that is “The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged” So it’s not that we shouldn’t judge, but that we must be conscious that when we judge we should judge ourselves first. Even in the last verse here it refers to people who are holy and people who are unholy. You can’t make that determination without judgment. And Paul is telling us in our verses today that we should first and continuously judge first ourselves and test ourselves in regards to our faith. Turn that interrogation light back towards ourselves first. And then what we should be looking for in that “self-examination” is clearly mentioned in verse 5, to see if “Jesus Christ is in you?” That is the test. Is Jesus Christ in you? Are you truly a Christian? Do you have the heart of Christ? You probably know that one of the names given for Jesus in both Isaiah 7 and Matthew 1 is Immanuel (which latterly means, “God with us”). God was with us through Jesus in the flesh, and God is with us through His Holy Spirit now. And Holy Spirit should be seen in the Christian through the fruit demonstrated in us.
Do you see the fruit of the Holy Spirit in you? Do you see your life changing from before you accepted Christ, to where you are now? That is the test.
For when a person receives the Holy Spirit, it is impossible for them to stay the same. The Holy Spirit’s work in us will transform our lives, and there will be
real-life manifestations of His workings in the life of the believer. He will refine you like gold. He will give you a new heart. You will be born-again and you will start liking and appreciating the things of the Lord, and that includes loving other Christians and enjoying the fellowship of the saints. And that also includes loving our Bibles and even hearing God’s word. These are just some of the evidences we should see in ourselves over time if you truly are a Christian. That is how you pass the test, by seeing the fruit of the Holy Spirit in your person.
The title of this message today is “The Mature Faith Test”. I added the word Mature, because I know for most it takes time to change your character. It generally doesn’t happen overnight. I like what Peter wrote about this: [SLIDE]
2 Peter 1:5-8 – For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Becoming mature in our faith may take some time, but I promise you it is a most wonderful and worthwhile journey. One that in the future you can look back and say with confidence, I have passed that test. I am a child of God. Praise the Lord indeed.
Paul concludes now this letter-book to the church in Corinth starting at verse 11:
11 Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice. Become mature, be encouraged, be of the same mind, be at peace, and the God of love and peace will be with you. 12 Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the saints send you greetings. 13 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
What a wonderful sendoff to a very long, poignant and heartfelt letter. First, he calls them his “brothers and sisters”, and we should consider doing the same.
You are my brothers and sisters in Christ and this is our church family, which I pray you will learn to appreciate, and then come along side each other to grow in faith and love. And then Paul encourages them to become mature in their faith, to be of the same mind and be at peace with one another. And I would like to extend that same salutation to you all as well. We need to be a people of peace.
That is our hope brothers and sisters in this Christian relationship we have here, to be encouraged, and to encourage one another. Because the world and satan are doing most everything they can to shut us down these days it seems. But take heart, Jesus has overcome this world. He defeated sin and satan on the cross at Calvary and therefore we have nothing to fear. For as Paul closes with here, we also have this assurance, that the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit is with us. And to that I can emphatically say, Amen!
By the way in this closing salutation Paul offers here, glorifies again the Trinity. There are only a few places in scripture that all three persons of God-head are mentioned in such close harmony. And what a befitting and beautiful offering that is indeed. I hope you have enjoyed this Second Corinthians offering. I know I have grown through it myself and I pray you have as well.
Finally, in regards to the next book of the Bible I am going to be preaching. I will have you know that I have toiled over this decision for months now. Thus far I have preached through the books of John, The Parables, Acts, 1st,2nd,3rd John, Jude, Mark and now 1st,2nd Corinthians. Not to mention a plethora of topical sermons through the years. So, I have narrowed my focus down to a few I felt would be beneficial, then I reached out and got some council and asked for a lot of prayers. Finally, I will reveal the next sermon series will be based upon the book of… Philippians. Thank you all again for giving me the privilege of being your pastor and bringing God’s word to bare. May I be found faithful in this calling and humble in my offerings. Would you please stand now and let us close with prayer
Lord’s Supper Observance
“God Bless America” [SLIDE] God be with you all.