Read - 2 Corinthians 13v1-4
Message - Scott Woodburn
The cry of exasperated mothers up and the down the land once wad "You wait until your father gets home." If I heard that once, I heard it a thousand times and so it would lead me into a place of pretending that my mother's slaps to my backside actually hurt. It was better to act sore than to actually be sore if my dad became involved.
Paul plans to visit the Corinthians for a third time (v1) and he reminds those who have been sinning that they must repent or face the discipline of the apostle (v2). This of course wouldn't involve a slap from granny's slipper or a father's belt. Paul would discipline the guilty party by removing them from the fellowship. This removal was a tool to bring the sinner to a place of Godly sorrow and repentance, eventually leading to that individual's full restoration. Even at this late stage, Paul wanted the false apostles to repent and be restored. We don't do church discipline much anymore. Not because the church has grown in maturity but because the church has grown in weakness.
Wait a minute. What about grace? Don't fill our heads with any of that discipline stuff, instead let grace abound! I hear you, but please hear me when I say that Christ is the only King and head of the church. He may have been crucified in weakness (v4a) but He was raised in power (v4b). Paul may minister in weakness (v4c) but as an apostle he will deal with the Corinthians by the power of God (v4d). Christ is powerful among the Corinthians (v3) and while we cling to His unfailing grace we should not doubt the zeal that Jesus has for His church.
Imagine going to a restaurant and telling the other diners that the food was disgusting. I'm certain the owner would have something to say. Imagine going to Buckingham Palace and insulting a member of the Queen's family. I'm sure you would quickly be rebuked. Yet how often do we mock, slander and wound the church of Jesus Christ?
The church is the body for whom Christ died (Ephesians 5v25) and He ever lives to make intercession for her (Hebrews 7v25). To all of those who over the years have sown seeds of division in the church, you must repent. To those who have divided fellowships and "planted" a bright, shiny, new church, you must repent. To those who engage in anonymous letter writing designed to crush the spirit of God's people, you must repent. To those who have turned hearts hard by a campaign of whispers, you must repent.
May we tremble at the thought of wounding Christ's church. We would never dream of entering a lion's den to stamp on the lion cubs. Yet why do we ignore Christ the lion-like-lamb (Revelation 5v5-6) who roars against all powers of hell for the sake of His children? Only a fool disturbs the peace of Christ's church, such a man must not think that he has escaped Christ's gaze (Revelation 1v14).
Another path is offered. Paul speaks "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)
The church does not belong to us and so may we strive for such verses to be true of our own fellowships. David wrote, Paul agreed and so we sing "behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity!" (Psalm 133v1).
Q34 What is adoption? Adoption is an act of God’s free grace, whereby we are received into the number, and have a right to all the privileges, of the sons of God.