Sufficiency in Christ - Message 10
November 21, 2021
I. Introduction: We conclude our survey of 2 Corinthians, Sufficiency in Christ.
A. Today’s title is Genuine Faith. (Text: 2 Corinthians 12:11-13:14, but will focus on ch.13)
- Theme: 2 Corinthians 13:5(NLT)—Examine yourselves to see if your faith is genuine. …
- Paul concluded his defense of his role as apostle over the church at Corinth.
- He served the Corinthians without asking for payment (his opponents, the false teachers, (Judaizers) pursued financial support).
- Paul wanted only to strengthen the Corinthian’s faith (2 Corinthians 12:17-19).
- He was still concerned that some had not responded to his correction.
- 2 Corinthians 12:20-21 (NLT)— 20For I am afraid that when I come I won’t like what I find, and you won’t like my response. I am afraid that I will find quarreling, jealousy, anger, selfishness, slander, gossip, arrogance, and disorderly behavior. 21Yes, I am afraid that when I come again, God will humble me in your presence. And I will be grieved because many of you have not given up your old sins. You have not repented of your impurity, sexual immorality, and eagerness for lustful pleasure.
- He wrote about what he hoped to find in the church when he returned, which I have applied to us as elements of genuine faith. [Adjust original meaning for audience.]
II. Elements of genuine faith… (2 Corinthians 13:1-10)
The first, is…
A. #1 - Exposure of sin. (2 Corinthians 13:1-4. C/R: Psalm 32:5; Proverbs 28:13; Acts 2:38; 3:19; 11:18)
- 2 Corinthians 13:1 (NLT)—This is the third time I am coming to visit you (and as the Scriptures say, “The facts of every case must be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses”) [Deuteronomy 19:15]. [Jesus applied this for church discipline; Matthew 18:16]
- Paul’s third visit would constitute his third witness or observation of their behavior.
- 2 Corinthians 13:2 (NLT)—2I have already warned those who had been sinning when I was there on my second visit. [sorrowful visit; 2 Corinthians 2:1] Now I again warn them and all others, just as I did before, that next time I will not spare them.
- Paul would discipline the disobedience that remained in the church upon his third visit. (He had sent at least three, perhaps four, letters to address the sin problems.)
- Paul did not enjoy confrontation; he was saddened by their accusations, but, because he loved the Corinthians, he wouldn’t allow disobedience to God’s truth and rebellion against rightful leadership to damage the church and harm the lives of the people.
- He knew tolerating disobedience in their midst would damage the church’s testimony, diminish their gospel witness in the community.
- It would lead people into following a superficial, rules and ritual-based gospel that could not save. (A “false gospel” that was no gospel at all!)
- 2 Corinthians 13:3 (NLT)—3I will give you all the proof you want that Christ speaks through me. [As prophets spoke for God in the Old Testament] Christ is not weak when He deals with you; He is powerful among you. 4Although He was crucified in weakness, He now lives by the power of God. [The cross exhibited the weakness of Christ’s humanity, which made Him susceptible to death.] We, too, are weak, just as Christ was, but when we deal with you we will be alive with Him and will have God’s power.
- The rebellious Corinthians’ thought Paul was weak, which he accepted, because he patterned his life after Christ (1 Corinthians 2:3), but he would be strong in confronting sin.
- He urged the Corinthians to recognize and repent of their sin.
- An essential element of genuine faith is awareness and avoidance of personal sin.
- The Holy Spirit exposes sin when we are first regenerated and justified, but He continues revealing our sin to us so we can confess and repent, which is part of our sanctification. (Psalm 32:5; Proverbs 28:13; Acts 2:38; 3:19; 11:18)
- APP.: When I become aware of my sin, how do I respond?
Genuine faith requires an…
B. #2 - Examination of faith. (2 Corinthians 13:5-6. C/R: Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46; John 14:23-24)
- 2 Corinthians 13:5 (NLT)—Examine yourselves to see if your faith is genuine. Test yourselves. Surely you know that Jesus Christ is among you; if not, you have failed the test of genuine faith.
- Paul’s opponents were attacking his credentials; he challenged them to examine themselves.
- 2 Corinthians 13:6 (NLT)—As you test yourselves, I hope you will recognize that we have not failed the test of apostolic authority. [He lived up to the expectations.]
- By rejecting his apostolic authority and his instruction from God’s truth, they were also refusing the witness of Jesus’ Spirit within them.
- If they doubted Paul’s calling, they would also have to distrust his message, which would require them to disbelieve their own conversion. [Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46; John 14:23-24]
- The most convincing proof of Paul’s apostleship was the Corinthian’s transformed lives.
- Their continued resistance and refusal to repent, indicated they lacked genuine faith, were not true (born again) believers because their lives were not transformed.
- Paul was confident that most of the Corinthians would confirm their faith to be genuine—and even those who failed the test could repent and turn to Christ in faith!
- When we are out of God’s will, at odds with His Word, we must examine ourselves.
- This guideline applies to parents and “prodigal” children living in disobedience.
- Here are questions for self-examination (tests) to confirm genuine faith:
- Is the Holy Spirit living within me? Romans 8:16 (NLT)—For His Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children. [also Romans 8:9]
- Do I love God and other believers? 1 John 5:2 (NLT)—We know we love God’s children if we love God and obey His commandments. [1 John 3:14; 5:2-3]
- Do I obey Jesus and avoid sin? 1 John 2:29 (NLT)—2Since we know that Christ is righteous, we also know that all who do what is right are God’s children. [1 John 3:9]
APP.: What did you discover? Assurance that you are saved? If not, call on Christ!
Another element of genuine faith is an…
C. #3 – Effort to mature. (2 Corinthians 13:7-10. C/R: Ephesians 4:11–15; Colossians 1:9-10; 2 Peter 1:3-8, 17-18)
- As he closed the letter, Paul summarized the essential necessary for spiritual growth.
- People with genuine faith will pursue growing toward spiritual maturity.
- 2 Corinthians 13:7 (NLT)—We pray to God that you will not do what is wrong by refusing our correction. [Regarding sin and rejecting Paul’s authority. 2 Corinthians 12:20-21] I hope we won’t need to demonstrate our authority when we arrive. Do the right thing before we come—even if that makes it look like we have failed to demonstrate our authority.
- To mature, which means to become more like Jesus, we must turn from our sin.
- Paul’s desire—and his prayer—was the Corinthians would desire to do the right thing on their own, to obey, to seek holiness, because he did not want to force them to comply.
- 2 Corinthians 13:8 (NLT)—For we cannot oppose the truth [Gospel message], but must always stand for the truth. [Truth mattered more than his status, reputation, popularity.]
- Spiritual growth toward maturity occurs as we learn and apply God’s truth in our lives.
- 2 Corinthians 13:9 (NLT)—We are glad to seem weak if it helps show that you are actually strong. [By choosing what is right.] We pray that you will become mature.
- Mature (Greek katartisis) means perfect, qualified, sufficient, for God’s purpose.
- 2 Corinthians 13:10 (NLT)—I am writing this to you before I come, hoping that I won’t need to deal severely with you when I do come. For I want to use the authority the Lord has given me [Paul did not appoint himself] to strengthen you [to grow to maturity in Christ], not to tear you down. [Paul hoped he would not have to act severely.]
- When we possess genuine faith, the Spirit lives within us; He compels us toward spiritual maturity and we cooperate with His leading, which makes us more and more like Jesus. [Ephesians 4:11–15; Colossians 1:9-10; 2 Peter 1:3–8; 3:17–18]
- APP.: Do I desire and seek spiritual growth and maturity?
III. Lord’s Supper: All who possess genuine faith are invited to participate.
A. Paul’s warning at 1 Corinthians 11:27–28 (NLT)—27So anyone who eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord unworthily is guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. 28That is why you should examine yourself before eating the bread and drinking the cup. [Take your cup and peel back the clear top exposing the wafer.]
B. Bread: 1 Corinthians 11:23-24 (NLT)—23…On the night when He was betrayed, the Lord Jesus took some bread 24and gave thanks to God for it. Then He broke it in pieces and said, “This is My body, which is given for you. Do this to remember Me.”
[Eat. … Peel back the red top on the cup.]
C. Cup: 1 Corinthians 11:25-26 (NLT)—25In the same way, He took the cup of wine after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant between God and His people—an agreement confirmed with My blood. Do this to remember Me as often as you drink it.” 26For every time you eat this bread and drink this cup, you are announcing the Lord’s death until He comes again. [Drink.]
IV. Paul’s Closing to the Corinthians: 2 Corinthians 13:11-14 (NLT)—11Dear brothers and sisters, I close my letter with these last words: Be joyful. Grow to maturity. Encourage each other. Live in harmony and peace. Then the God of love and peace will be with you.
12Greet each other with Christian love. [Hand shake or a smile and a wave.] 13All of God’s people here send you their greetings.
14May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.