Read - 2 Corinthians 1v1-2
Message - Scott Woodburn
Now and again I'll come across an article or statement that says something like "the problem here is that people are listening too much to Paul and not enough to Jesus." Perhaps you've encountered that yourself? In many Bibles Christ's words are highlighted in red letters because they're obviously more important than any others...right? My own Bible was a gift and I cherish it but I wish it didn't include red letters for the words of Jesus.
The problem here is that we are tempted to think that all Scripture is God breathed but some of it is more God breathed than the other parts. This is simply untrue and Scripture from beginning to end proceeds from the mouth of God. Paul was used by the Lord to author at least 13 books of the New Testament. I'm satisfied that Hebrews should also be considered from Paul and therefore half of the New Testament comes from the man once called Saul.
See the issue? If the words in red are of more worth than anything from Paul...half of the New Testament should be rejected or downplayed. It isn't a modern problem. There were many in Corinth who questioned the authority of Paul. These individuals stirred up so much trouble that Paul's visit to Corinth was "painful" (2 Corinthians 2v1). Indeed Paul had written another letter to the Corinthians which was hard to write and no doubt hard to read (2 Corinthians 2v4). The false apostles didn't want the Corinthians listening to Paul and were prepared to say anything to get their way.
So is Paul a problem? Not at all. Not then and not now. He is "an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God" (v1). The first verse of this book is an extraordinary claim. Paul is an apostle of Christ Jesus. Who were the apostles? Men who has seen the resurrected Christ (Acts 1v22, 10v39–41, 1 Corinthians 9v1, 15v7–8) who were directly appointed by Jesus (Mark 3v14, Luke 6v13, Acts 1v2, 24, 10v41, Galatians 1v1) and who could confirm their ministry and message by the "signs of an apostle" (Matthew 10v1–2, Acts 1v5–8, 2v43, 4v33, 5v12, 8v14, 2 Corinthians 12v12, Hebrews 2v3–4). There are no apostles today, their ministry was foundational as the church grew from its Jewish beginnings to encompass the entire world, but thanks be to God, we still have their Spirit inspired testimony.
Churches like my own are slowly but surely returning to live worship. Edengrove will meet for the first time in six months this coming Sunday. I'm all too aware of my own limitations in this regard. What should I say? What should I preach? Will I try to answer the Covid questions? With limited time in our gatherings what passages should be squeezed in? I'm trying to relax about all this. I do not need to reinvent the wheel. My responsibility is to preach the whole counsel of God. A ministry that looks to the prophets and the apostles and one that preaches Christ and Him crucified.
As I consider this I am so thankful for the Word of God. In His mercy God has given us a book, inspired by the Spirit and delivered by the testimony of men like Paul. We will open it again this Sunday, we'll read it aloud and I'll preach from it. We may not have the same time, we may be in the "wrong seat", we may find the imposed changes difficult but this Sunday we will hear the voice of God and we will devote ourselves to the apostles' teaching.
Something extraordinary will happen this Sunday. I suspect we've long taken it for granted but may we ready ourselves this week to receive the Word of God on the Lord's Day. "How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!" (Psalm 119v103)
Pray (acTS) Sing
Q57 Which is the fourth commandment? The fourth commandment is, Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labor, and do all thy work: but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy man-servant, nor thy maid-servant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath-day, and hallowed it.
Read - 1 John 1:1
Message Alan Burke
Does it really matter what you believe? Think about the things that we believe and know to be true in every day life, right now we believe it is important to keep socially distanced, the hand shakes have gone, hugs are a no no, and we are keeping our distance to those whom we would normally be embracing at the door of the meetinghouse. For some this suits them quite nicely but for others others they struggle with the lack of physical contact. Why are we living in this way, it is because we believe that social distancing is an important way of slowing or stoping the spread of Covid-19, it will keep us and those who we love safe. Does it matter what you believe, it does because it impacts how we live.
Here John wanted to leave his readers in no doubt that the same Jesus, the preexistent Jesus is the truth that he now speaks off to them, the Jesus of which he speaks of is the Word of life. But why? Because it matters what we believe about Jesus. Here he speaks into a situation that the truth of the Gospel has been blurred, some were making Jesus less than God, others were saying that he was not human, heresy abounded, and John is assuring them that the message he brings that he proclaims to them was no dream, for he had seen and experienced it and the truth matters, it matters to your salvation. The incarnation of Jesus Christ becoming a true, living, breathing man is essential to our redemption. Only a man, a man who was without sin, could satisfy God's justice. But man is not without sin, and therefore could have no hope in making atonement for himself. So God would, if he were to redeem man and uphold the covenant of grace, have to provide a way for a true man to make atonement for the sins of God's elect (Heb. 2:17, 18; 4:15-5:2, Matt. 11:29; Mark 10:39; John 13:13-15; Phil. 2:5-8; Heb. 12:2-4; 1 Pet. 2:21).
Jesus had to be a man so that he could identify with us, suffering in our place and sympathising with us in our weakness. Yet he also had to be fully God, for there is no way any mere human could bear and fully satisfy God’s wrath. By nature, this wrath is infinite in quality. In order to bear the weight of wrath, it is essential that the Savior be divine, in order to satisfy this wrath, he had to offer a sacrifice of such a value that God would be pleased to accept it. John is making it clear that what we know and believe about the Lord Jesus matters.
What do we believe about Jesus, this is what the bible teaches; The Son of God, the second person in the Trinity, being very and eternal God, of one substance and equal with the Father, did, when the fulness of time was come, take upon Him man’s nature, (John 1:1, 14, 1 John 5:20, Phil. 2:6, Gal. 4:4) with all the essential properties, and common infirmities thereof, yet without sin; (Heb. 2:14, 16–17, Heb. 4:15) being conceived by the power of the Holy Ghost, in the womb of the virgin Mary, of her substance. (Luke 1:27, 31, 35, Gal. 4:4) So that two whole, perfect, and distinct natures, the Godhead and the manhood, were inseparably joined together in one person, without conversion, composition, or confusion. (Luke 1:35, Col. 2:9, Rom. 9:5, 1 Pet. 3:18, 1 Tim. 3:16) Which person is very God, and very man, yet one Christ, the only Mediator between God and man. (Rom. 1:3–4, 1 Tim. 2:5)(WCF 8:2.)
Who do you say Jesus is?
What is required in the fourth commandment?
The fourth commandment requireth the keeping holy to God such set times as he hath appointed in his Word; expressly one whole day in seven, to be a holy Sabbath to himself. (Deut. 5:12–14)
Read - 2 Corinthians 1v1-2
Message - Scott Woodburn
Paul's relationship with the Corinthians was often strained. We heard on Monday that he was forced to write a stern letter to correct some of what was going on in their church. Additionally the apostle described a visit to Corinth as "painful". Yet as he writes to them he does so with love and affection for his brothers and sisters who we have long known as the Corinthians.
Paul writes alongside his friend Timothy (v1a). The pair had come across one another in Lystra (a city in modern day Turkey) and Paul had recruited him there (Acts 16v3). It was probably Timothy who had carried 1 Corinthians to the church in Corinth (1 Corinthians 4v17) but as 2 Corinthians begins he is back with Paul in Ephesus.
Both men are therefore well known to the Corinthians and so the letter is from Paul with Timothy by his side "to the church of God that is at Corinth" (v1b). This is a remarkable turn of phrase. Paul is writing to friends and indeed foes, he is writing about subjects which cause him pain but he is still aware that the people who will receive this letter are part of the church of Jesus Christ. I think we have lost sight of this today. In Northern Ireland we have become so accustomed to church splits that they cause us little grief. Church membership means next to nothing. Individuals who once promised before God to attend church never darken its door and yet somehow remain in membership. We promise to submit to the leading of the elders but change our minds when we don't agree with their decisions.
What does Paul mean when he speaks of the church? The church is both visible and invisible, or in other words we see it with our own eyes on a Sunday but its true membership is invisible to our eyes and known only to God. This invisible church, the true church, is not man-made but exists because the Lord has called sinners out of the world to repentance and faith by the preaching of the Gospel. The church is the kingdom of God. The church has been given the Word of God and the ordinary means of grace which are given to gather and perfect the people of God and the church belongs to Jesus. The church is the bride of Christ, He is the head of the church (not the Pope or Queen) and He is the one whose blood was shed, not for everyone who has ever lived, but for His church. It is to the church in Corinth that Paul writes.
But the Corinthian church doesn't stand alone, she is part of the church catholic, the universal church. Paul greets "the saints who are in the whole of Achaia" (v1b). The Roman province of Achaia (pronounced AH-KAY-AH not Ikea!) which is in modern Greece, had other men and women of faith who Paul calls the saints. Roman Catholicism argues that the saints are only those who have been canonised by the Pope. These so called saints must have lived a virtuous life and then when the individual is dead a miracle must be performed on earth via the intercession of the so called saint in heaven. There's more to it than that but hopefully you see already that none of this can be justified.
Instead the saints are those who have trusted Christ. You and I are saints through faith in Jesus and therefore part of His church. We belong to Jesus and one another. There are no independent churches but from Ballynahinch to Buenos Aires there is the church.
Church life is slowly returning to "normality" but let me ask you...how will you return to the church? As consumeristic, gossipy, grumpy, malcontents, always complaining but never serving? Or as men and women who realise that by faith you have become part of the church of Jesus Christ which is the most significant body on this planet? "Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Saviour." (Ephesians 5v23)
Q59 Which day of the seven hath God appointed to be the weekly Sabbath? From the beginning of the world to the resurrection of Christ, God appointed the seventh day of the week to be the weekly Sabbath; and the first day of the week, ever since, to continue to the end of the world, which is the Christian Sabbath.
Read - 1 John 1:3-4
Message Alan Burke
What do you and I have in common, it could be any manner of things, like a common enjoyment of sitting around a fire pit enjoying a lovely summers evening, or going for a walk on Downhill beach early in the morning, maybe its our common love of steak, or of Robinson’s Lemon Barley Water. If none of these things ring true then I hope if you are reading this that you and I have in common our love of the Lord Jesus, that we are in fellowship with one another, after all fellowship literally means to ‘have in common’. Just as James, John and Simon were sharers in their common pursuit of fishing (Lk 5:10), believers share in the grace of God (Phil 1:7) and in Jesus Christ (1 Cor 1:9). Today if you know and love Jesus then we share fellowship with one another as a result of the spiritual privilege we have in Him. We are united in Christ.
But why does John after focusing the attention of his readers to the preexistent Jesus the Word of life, now speak to them about fellowship (3) and that fellowship to make his joy complete (4). Well it seems that the fellowship that was shared among them was in decline. Likely because they were being influenced by others, nonsense being spouted by false teachers, leading those to whom he writes up the garden path. What they were hearing was contrary to the truth, and instead of growing in their fellowship with one another the cracks were appearing, divisions were increasing. The likelihood is that some of their number had already left by the time John writes and he feared that others may leave with no assurance, doubting their salvation.
Sadly today there are still many who proclaim a message is not the gospel, is not good news, who say the way of salvation is dependant on our works, there are those who say that it is possible to have a relationship with God while rejecting Jesus Christ as the way the truth and the life (Jn 14:6). But here we are reminded to of the truth of the ‘word of life’ (1), in whom there is eternal life (2), that means we can have fellowship with one another. He is the foundation for fellowship in the church, the truth of what the Scriptures teaches has to be our rule and guide, for the 'scriptures principally teach what man is to believe concerning God, and what duty God requires of man’ (WSC3), they are what we are to look to. When professing Christians try to cobble together unity that is not based on scripture it will fail unless the truth of the Scriptures is the foundation for fellowship. For our fellowship with God comes first, that fellowship with one another is derived from it. It matters what we believe.
How is the Sabbath to be sanctified?
The Sabbath is to be sanctified by a holy resting all that day, (Exod. 20:8,10, Exod. 16:25–28) even from such worldly employments and recreations as are lawful on other days; (Neh. 13:15–19) and spending the whole time in the public and private exercises of God’ s worship, (Luke 4:16, Acts 20:7, Ps. 92, Isa. 66:23) except so much as is to be taken up in the works of necessity and mercy. (Matt. 12:1–31)
Read - 2 Corinthians 1v1-2
Message - Scott Woodburn
The apostle writes to the Corinthians with Timothy by his side to the church of Christ in Corinth and the whole region of Achaia (v1) and his message? Grace and peace to you (v2). Paul is going to have to defend his ministry, he will have to say tough things, but first he extends a blessing to his brothers and sisters in Christ.
Firstly, he speaks of grace. We often call our children and our churches by this beautiful word. What does it mean? Grace is God's unmerited favour to those who deserve His wrath. Paul prays that the Corinthians would know this grace. That in all of their days they would understand and rest in the magnificence of God's grace. God extends this grace to us in the work of Christ. Jesus takes our sin to the cross and nails it there. Jesus is the propitiation for our sins - the sacrifice that turns away the wrath of God. Jesus rose again on the third day for our justification and every inch of it is by the grace of God. Did we deserve it? Not a bit. We deserved Calvary not Jesus. We deserved the wrath of God for our sins. But while we were yet sinners Christ died for us. Grace to you, says Paul.
Secondly, he speaks of peace. The American pioneer Daniel Boone when asked if he'd made peace with God stated "I didn't know we'd quarrelled." Many are like him. Most believe in a fictitious God who resembles a long white bearded Santa Claus at Christmas. The reality is that there are those in this world who have peace with God through faith in Christ and those who carry on a war with Him that perhaps they are unaware they are fighting. Paul wants the Corinthians to know the peace of God that passes all understanding. A peace that only comes when we know the conscience calming reality of the Gospel - that we will stand in God's holy presence by the blood of Christ. We have been forgiven! Peace to you, says Paul.
There are many sources of grace and peace in this world. We are treated well when we don't deserve it. Peace is won on our behalf by soldiers in a foreign field. Paul looks higher. Grace and peace to you from the Father and the Son, says Paul. There is no higher standard and nothing that stills our hearts than knowing and understanding the grace and peace of God to weak and weary sinners. There is much for Paul to discuss and many battles to fight but he begins with a word of grace and peace to a church he loves and cares for.
Back in the day my mother would often ask me to do a "wee message for her". It would usually mean a loaf from the Co-op or a delivery to my aunt. The story goes that a mother once asked her son to do a wee message. "Go to the shop and get me some Ormo taddie farls" said the mother before advising her son "If they don't have Ormo get something else." The son ran off to the shop before returning with two litres of bleach. "They didn't have Ormo" he said "so I brought you something else."
Paul has a message to deliver and even after all these years he still speaks. It is a message we wouldn't swap for anything else. It is a message of Christ and Him crucified and peace with God for all who believe. We'll return to church in the morning and before we all start weeping uncontrollably and hugging and kissing even though we shouldn't, here's what I'll say first "Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ." (v2)
Q61 What is forbidden in the fourth commandment? The fourth commandment forbiddeth the omission, or careless performance, of the duties required, and the profaning the day by idleness, or doing that which is in itself sinful, or by unnecessary thoughts, words, or works, about our worldly employments or recreations.
Read — 1 John 1:5
Message Alan Burke
It was a full moon last Wednesday. As I was driving home from Ballynahinch it beamed brightly in the night sky, illuminating the road in front of me so much so that for a brief moment it seemed that was bright enough to drive home without the car headlights on. You will be glad to know that I thought better of it. We can see the effects of light so clearly, normally when we think of light we think of the light of the sun, C.S. Lewis said this about it, “We believe that the sun is in the sky at midday in summer not because we can clearly see the sun (in fact, we cannot) but because we can see everything else”.
Here in John 1:5, John gives us a description of God that is not found in the teaching of Jesus that we have recorded in the Gospels but it is a truth that came to John from Jesus himself. For John had heard, seen, touched Jesus, he now testifies and proclaims the truth concerning him and that he had learnt from him. (1-2). He was doing that which Jesus himself had tasked him with along with the other apostles, taking the good news to the ends of the earth (Mark 3:14, Luke 6v13, Acts 1:2, 24, 10:41, Gal 1:1). God is light and throughout the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament light is the obvious symbol of God, in Exodus he manifested himself in light, (Ex 3:1-6, 13:21-22), the psalmist speaks of how ‘he clothes himself in light as with a garment’ (Ps 104:2), we learn from Paul in 1 Timothy 6, that God is unapproachable light to bright for man to behold (1 Tim 6:16), and elsewhere how the Lord is light and salvation (Ps 27:1, 36:9, Isa 49:6).
What does it mean thought, well look to what else John says, ‘in him there is no darkness at all’. Lets think about what that means, God is light, in him there is no darkness, the light being what is essentially of God, it contains the truth (1:6, 8, 2:21) love (3:1, 4:7-12), righteousness (1:9, 2:1, 29, 3:7), eternal life (1:2, 2:17, 25), hope (3:3), purity (1:7, 9, 3:3:) and confidence (2:28, 3:21, 4:17). And the children of God are to walk in his light (1:6-7). It is another way of saying that we are to live in his light, live in it, just as we can see that the sun is up not because we can see the sun in the sky but because we can see everything else.
As God is light and in him there is no darkness, for the opposite of his light is the darkness. All that is opposite to his goodness is darkness, where we find falsehood (1:6, ��, hatred (1:9, 3:13, 15, 4:20), impurity (1:7, 9), fear (4:18) and sinfulness (2:16), it is the sphere of evil, it is the world (2:15-17, 3:3) and darkness (1:6, 2:6, ��. What it means is that means our actions, decisions, thoughts, beliefs, should be governed by the light and not the darkness, not by this world, not by political correctness, not by public opinion but by the light, governed by God himself. Just as we see the effects of the sun, the effects of the God we worship and who is light (1:5) should see seen in our lives, in everything we do in who we are and not darkness.
Is it seen in our lives?
What are the reasons annexed to the fourth commandment?
The reasons annexed to the fourth commandment are, God’ s allowing us six days of the week for our own employments, (Exod. 20:9) his challenging a special propriety in the seventh, his own example, and his blessing the sabbath-day. (Exod. 20:11)
Read - 2 Corinthians 1v3-11
Message - Scott Woodburn
For those of us of a certain age we can remember an advert for Hamlet cigars. A man is in a photo booth and combs his four strands of hair into place. He sits patiently waiting for the flash that never comes but just as reaches down to figure out what is wrong with the machine it takes his photo. This repeats a few times before he gives up and lights a cigar. Apparently you see, "happiness is a cigar called Hamlet".
I'd imagine that most of us in the midst of turmoil don't reach for a cigar. Where do we find comfort then? Paul tells us that God is the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort (v3). It is the Lord who comforts us when we are afflicted (v4a) and we in turn comfort others (v4b). The Christian's comfort isn't a cigar called Hamlet but instead a Saviour named Jesus. He is our great high priest who knew trouble in every way but did not sin. He comforts and consoles us as we wait for His return.
This comfort is like a lighthouse on a dark stormy night at sea because in this world the Christian will know affliction and trouble. During this affliction, Christ is our hope. Through faith in Christ we have union with Him. Paul speaks here of sharing abundantly in Christ's suffering (v5a). What does he mean? Kim Riddlebarger is helpful "We share in Christ’s suffering by trusting in his suffering throughout his life and especially in his death on Calvary to save us from the guilt and power of our sin. No one suffered more and carried a greater burden than did Jesus."
In affliction we look to Jesus the suffering servant and as we gaze upon Christ we find our comfort (v5b). As we shall see Paul was no stranger to affliction, but he patiently endured all that came his way. He knew affliction to such an extent that he "despaired of life itself" (v8), indeed he felt that a death sentence had been pronounced upon him (v9a). But God delivered the Apostle (v10) and Paul's confidence was such that he was sure God would deliver him again (v10b).
He hoped that his suffering and the comfort he received would be a blessing to the Corinthians who were certain to experience their own afflictions (v6) and so Paul the Pastor hoped for patient endurance (v6b) and prayer (v11) in the life of the church in Corinth. Paul's hope for the Corinthians was unshaken (v7) knowing that they would endure suffering and be comforting in their time of need.
How could he be so certain? Because his was a Christward gaze. We may never have seen days like these but our Saviour hasn't changed since the days Paul called upon Him despairing of life itself. My brothers and sisters, these are days of afflcition for many and some of you this morning have trials that would make even the strongest knees weak. But our hope is unshaken, we know affliction and will certainly know comfort, because dearly beloved we know Jesus. Those who look to him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed. (Psalm 34v5)
Q63 Which is the fifth commandment? The fifth commandment is, Honor thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.
Read — 1 John 1:6-7
Message Alan Burke
When I was a wein my mates and I from Kerry park would go exploring. The roaming fields that surround the village that we lived were our playground. When the cows were out from the spring onwards the farmers would have the electric fences up for grazing management, moving the fence so they had new grass to eat each day. If you wanted to cross the fence you would normally just go under it, it was easy enough. There was one day though that the farmer had two lines of wire up and the choice was try to go round it or the simpler solution in our heads was to go over it. I remember doing a running jump but the next fella decided just to put his leg over it, he ended up with a foot on each side and what ensued seemed like a lifetime of pain and tears. We all learnt a valuable lesson that day.
Why thought do I bring this up, well as John writes to the church he makes it clear that we cannot live in light and darkness, we cannot have a foot on one side and one and the other, one foot in the light and one in the darkness, nor more than my mate could have one foot on one side of the fence and one foot on the other. For light and darkness are incompatible, they cannot share fellowship with each other, for ‘God is Light’ how in him there is no darkness (5), and as John continues he makes it clear that those who claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness lie and the truth is not in them (6). I can’t imagine that going down too well in most presbyterian churches across the land, the minister calling someone out as a liar from the pulpit saying the truth is not in them. In effect though that is what John does.
There are either some to whom John wrote or others they knew who claimed to have fellowship with God yet they walked in darkness, they kept on sinning, they had rejected the truth of his revealed word. Ultimately they did not live in the reality of God that is revealed in Jesus. If they had they would have lived according to the way that God had reveal himself and their sin demonstrated that they did not really know him, that they had no fellowship with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. For if we live by the truth we do the will of God (2:17), if we live by the truth we will do what pleases God (3:22), we do what is right (2:29, 3:7), it means that we commit oneself to live in the light, to conform to oneself to God, to have fellowship with those who are in the light. We will think about this more on Friday, but now I leave you with the question, are your thoughts or actions incompatible with the light?
What is required in the fifth commandment?
The fifth commandment requireth the preserving the honor, and performing the duties, belonging to every one in their several places and relations, as superiors, (Eph. 5:21) inferiors, (1 Pet. 2:17) or equals. (Rom. 12:10)
Read - 2 Corinthians 1v12-22
Message - Scott Woodburn
Sometimes it feels like we can't win, that we can't do right for doing wrong. It might surprise us that even Apostles weren't exempt from criticism. Paul and his ministry have come under attack in Corinth from so called Apostles who were nothing of the sort. Yet Paul while stung by their criticism is not undone. He is able to say with confidence that he behaved among the Corinthians with simplicity, godly sincerity and by the grace of God (v12). He didn't use earthly wisdom to convince or cajole the Corinthians, instead he laboured among them with integrity and while his critics might say otherwise, Paul's conscience doesn't condemn him (v12a). Indeed Paul made a supreme effort to behave in this way towards the Corinthians, perhaps because they were a supremely critical bunch.
Even Paul's travel plans seemed to come under the critical gaze of his Corinthians opponents. To some it seemed that Paul was being fickle and saying yes when he really meant no. The truth was that Paul wanted to see them twice. Once on his way to Macedonia (v16a) and then on the way back from Macedonia (v16b). Indeed Paul wanted to see the Corinthians so that they might "have a second experience of grace" (v15) or in plain terms he wanted once again to minister among them. Before God, Paul can promise that his message has not been inconsistent (v18) because he proclaimed Christ among them (v19) in whom there is no inconsistency (v19b). Indeed all the promises of God find their yes in Jesus, He is the fulfilment of the promises of God (v20). To this Paul says "amen" and gives God the glory (v20b).
It is the always consistent God who has established Paul and the Corinthians in Christ (v21a). He has called them and saved them and sanctifies them. It is the always consistent God who has anointed Christians with God the Holy Spirit (v21b). It is the always consistent God who has sealed Christians declaring His ownership of the them (v22a) and it is the always consistent God who puts the Spirit into our hearts as a sure pledge of our full and final salvation (v22b).
When rumours abound and lies are told we often prefer to plan for war. We can't win, we can't do right for wrong and therefore we will fight our corner and lob a few grenades at our critics. Paul certainly defends himself in these verses but he also takes the Corinthians to a surprising place. Looking Christward he reminds them of the last day (v14). It is on that day that we will receive our vindication. On that day the slander and lies thrown at us will be shown to be hollow nonsense. On that day we will be acquitted by Christ Himself. Today if you are burdened by the slander and the stares, rest in Christ. Your enemies may have made up their minds about you. Your actions may always be seen through a negative gaze but turn your gaze to Jesus. Ultimately the false opinions of others will not stand and only the opinion of Christ should concern us. The critic and the criticised will all discover as George Whitefield once said "What we are, the last day will show."
Q65 What is forbidden in the fifth commandment? The fifth commandment forbiddeth the neglecting of, or doing anything against, the honor and duty which belongeth to every one in their several places and relations.