Read - 2 Corinthians 13v5-14
Message - Scott Woodburn
Paul's second letter to the Corinthians is almost finished but Paul hopes that his relationship with them will continue. But for the relationship to progress Paul asks the Corinthians to examine themselves (v5). They are currently sitting on the fence, they haven't turned their backs on Paul but at the same time they haven't turned their backs on the false apostles either. So Paul urges them to examine themselves to see if they are in the faith.
The Christian faith was not accurately presented by Paul's opponents. We cannot know at this stage the finer points of their false doctrines but Paul has already made it clear that they have been proclaiming a different Christ, a different Spirit and a different Gospel. The Corinthians are to therefore examine what they themselves believe to ensure they pass the test. Are they trusting in Christ alone as He is offered in the Gospel? Do they understand the person and work of the Holy Spirit? Do they preach the true Gospel of grace alone, faith alone and Christ alone?
If they pass the test then they will realise that Paul has passed the test too - he is the real deal (v6). Yet Paul doesn't want their focus to be on him, that would be the wrong conclusion (v7a). Instead, as always, Paul wants the truth to ring out. He wants the Corinthians to do what is right (v7b). Ultimately we cannot stop the march of truth (v8a), we can only work to proclaim the truth (v8b). Paul may minister in much weakness as his opponents like to point out (v9a) but if his ministry means that the Corinthians are strong, then Paul is glad (v9b). He wants the Corinthians to be restored (v9c) or in other words to remove the false teachers and to once again enjoy a pure devotion to Christ. It is for this reason that Paul writes (v10a). He doesn't want to tear down and destroy the Corinthians but to build them up and establish them once more in the faith.
To an outsider looking in, the Corinthians might have seemed like a lost cause. They were a divided church, a fellowship that was drifting from orthodox Christian teaching, a church that was prepared to tolerate sin and a congregation that allowed false teachers to air their heresy unchallenged. What should be done? Forget about them? Rub them out and start again? Leave them to it? Paul doesn't take any of these routes. He continues to proclaim Christ and Him crucified. He challenges falsehood and he seeks to build the Corinthians in the faith. He is unshakeable in his confidence in Christ and he is prepared to endure all things for the sake of Christ's church.
We have reached the end of our walk through this book and I trust it has been a blessing and a challenge to your soul. How do we respond to this apostolic teaching? The Word of God has the final say. "Finally, brothers, rejoice. Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you. Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the saints greet you. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all." (v11-14)
Q38 What benefits do believers receive from Christ at the resurrection? At the resurrection, believers, being raised up to glory, shall be openly acknowledged and acquitted in the day of judgment, and made perfectly blessed in the full enjoying of God to all eternity.