Read - 2 Corinthians 8
Message - Scott Woodburn
It is Paul's hope that the Corinthians will play their part in supporting the wider church. There was a severe famine and the churches particularly in Judea were struggling. We talked on Tuesday about the holy catholic church or in plain terms the universal or worldwide church, none of us are independent from the rest of Christ's Bride. Paul doesn't command the Corinthians to give generously (v8a), instead he hopes that the earnestness or example of the Macedonians (who had given beyond their means) would see a similar result in Corinth proving the genuineness of their love (v8b).
Ultimately though, regardless of the sincerity of the Macedonians, it is Christ who is the example of generosity. Paul reminds the Corinthians of Christ's grace to them. Grace is God's undeserved favour to those who deserve His wrath. Christ was rich yet willingly became poor so that He might bring riches to the Corinthians (v9). Paul here doesn't speak about silver or gold but the willing obedience and condescension of Christ. He left His heavenly abode and took on flesh. He willingly lowered Himself to a humble estate and finally was nailed to a cross. He laid aside the riches of heaven and became a poor and suffering servant for the sake of His church. All who receive Jesus by faith receive immeasurable riches in this life and in the one to come. Our bank balances may not increase but Christ's righteousness is credited (imputed) to our account. This is something that all the gold in the world cannot buy.
Therefore Paul urges the Corinthians, in light of the Gospel, to finish the work that they had already started (v10). Paul had urged them in 1 Corinthians 16 to put aside something on the first day of the week to add to the collection for the saints. They had desired to do it and now it was time for them to finish doing it so that the collection could be taken to the churches in Judea (v11).
This collection was to based on "what you have" (v11b). Paul doesn't wish to plunge the Corinthians into poverty, instead their readiness to contribute (v12a) should be matched by an offering from that which God has blessed them (v12b). They are to give according to their means, so that in their time of abundance, the Corinthians would meet the needs of their brothers and sisters going through a time of lack (v13-14).
To underscore his point, Paul takes the Corinthians to Exodus 16v18. The Lord provided manna for His people in the wilderness. Each family was to gather about two litres each. Those who gathered much had enough and those who gathered less had enough. There was no disappointment and no one was left to starve.
The western church has much about it to be criticised and yet we cannot deny that the Lord has blessed us with a superabundancce of wealth. Churches throughout our land are property owners. Old buildings are torn down and replaced with bright shiny church complexes. Towns with various fellowships all spend small fortunes on having their own little corners. Edengrove is no different and I'm sure your fellowship is the same.
I'm reminded of the prayer I once heard in a far off land. I couldn't understand a word of it but when it was translated I was humbled. It went something like this "Lord we thank you today for our brothers in the west. Thank you for making them rich and we pray that they would continue to be rich. With their riches may they continue to support the church all over the world." Charles Hodge puts it this way "the superabundance of one should be employed in relieving the necessities of others." May our abundance in this present time be used willingly and generously to support the work of the church throughout the world. In Christ's name and for His sake. Amen.
Q6 How many persons are there in the Godhead? There are three persons in the Godhead; the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost; and these three are one God, the same in substance, equal in power and glory.