Sufficiency in Christ - Message 1
September 19, 2021
I. Introduction: Today, we begin a new series, a survey of 2 Corinthians.
A. I have titled this series, Sufficiency in Christ.
- 2 Corinthians is a pastoral letter from Paul to a church he founded, addressing problems, offering praise and encouragement, but also expressing warnings about several issues.
- Paul founded the church in Corinth around AD 51 during his 2nd missionary journey.
- He remained in Corinth for 18 months teaching (Acts 18); after departing, Paul learned of numerous problems in the church. (1 Corinthians 1:11; 5:9; 16:17)
- He wrote at least three, but perhaps four, letters (two are not included in the New Testament) to address these problems. (1 Corinthians was the 2nd, written in response to a letter from the church seeking clarification (1 Corinthians 7:1); 2 Corinthians was the 4th letter.)
- A brief visit by Paul, following the writing of 1 Corinthians, went badly (1 Corinthians 16:5-9; 2 Corinthians 1:16), so he wrote a stern letter (his 3rd) to the church (2 Corinthians 2:1-5; 7:5-16).
- The Corinthians responded positively to the letter (2 Corinthians 7:7), so he wrote 2 Corinthians in AD 55-57 from Macedonia, to commend the church, but also to provide additional instruction and warnings. (2 Corinthians 2:13; 7:5; 9:2)
- I describe this background, not for you to memorize the events, but so you can understand that Paul’s letters had a specific meaning to the original audience, which does not include us; however, because the writing was inspired by the Spirit, it includes truths that do apply to us. [Observation (say)-Interpretation (mean)-Application (to me)]
B. The title of today’s message is, Standing,
- Theme passage: 2 Corinthians 1:21 (NLT)—It is God who enables us, along with you, to stand firm for Christ.
- Paul stood firm when misunderstood, falsely accused and undermined.
- Do you stand firm for Christ when facing opposition…or temptation?
C. Greeting: 2 Corinthians 1:1-2 (NLT)— 1This letter is from Paul, chosen by the will of God to be an apostle [an ambassador] of Christ Jesus, and from our brother Timothy.
I am writing to God’s church [belongs to God, so under Paul’s apostolic authority] in Corinth and to all of His holy people throughout Greece.
2May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace.
II. I stand firm for Christ because I have…
A. #1 - Comfort in trouble. (2 Corinthians 1:3-11. C/R: John 16:33; Romans 5:3-5; Hebrews 4:15-16; James 1:2-4)
- Opponents in Corinth used Paul’s trouble (beatings, imprisonment, 2 Corinthians 11:23-25; and physical illness) against him, saying that his suffering displayed weakness and the lack of God’s blessing, even punishment for sin, so he wasn’t qualified to be an apostle.
- 2 Corinthians 1:3 (NLT)—All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort.
- Worldly comfort provides temporary relief, but God’s comfort comes from the presence of the Holy Spirit who reassures us of God’s love and care both now and in eternity.
- 2 Corinthians 1:4-5 (NLT)—4He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us. 5For the more we suffer for Christ, the more God will shower us with His comfort through Christ. [Paul’s suffering and God’s comfort proved his calling.]
- All of us experience trouble and suffering in this world [John 16:33]; trials and problems prove and perfect our faith, providing hope and endurance. [Romans 5:3-5; James 1:2-4]
- Persevering by faith, with God’s help, proves our relationship with God!
- Our suffering, even when we struggle with, or even doubt, God, results in a greater ability to trust Him, which affords us an experience that we can share with others.
- 2 Corinthians 1:6b-7 (NLT)—6b Then you can patiently endure the same things we suffer. 7We are confident that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in the comfort God gives us.
- Paul encouraged the Corinthians that God would comfort them, as He comforted Paul.
- 2 Corinthians 1:8-10 (NLT)—8We think you ought to know, dear brothers and sisters, about the trouble we went through in the province of Asia. [Roman prov., Turkey now. Acts19:23-41; 1 Corinthians 15:31-32]. We were crushed and overwhelmed beyond our ability to endure, and we thought we would never live through it. 9In fact, we expected to die. But as a result, we stopped relying on ourselves and learned to rely only on God, who raises the dead. 10And He did rescue us from mortal danger, and He will rescue us again. We have placed our confidence in Him, and He will continue to rescue us.
- Paul confidently expected God to deliver him from persecution, not for his own sake, but for the sake of believers and those who had not yet heard the gospel message.
- 2 Corinthians 1:11 (NLT)—And you are helping us by praying for us. Then many people will give thanks because God has graciously answered so many prayers for our safety. [We support each other in trouble through our prayers. ILL.: Graham]
- APP.: Have you learned to trust in God during trials? Do you comfort others?
I stand firm for Christ because I have…
B. #2 - Confidence from integrity. (2 Corinthians 1:12-24. C/R: Psalm 25:21; Romans 9:1;
- 1 Peter 2:12) [Integrity=whole, complete; beliefs and behavior are integrated (consistent)]
- Paul defended his integrity, his truthfulness, against various accusations.
Critics asserted that Paul’s suffering was because God was punishing him for sin.
- 2 Corinthians 1:12 (NLT)—We can say with confidence and a clear conscience that we have lived with a God-given holiness and sincerity in all our dealings. We have depended on God’s grace, not on our own human wisdom. That is how we have conducted ourselves before the world, and especially toward you.
- Paul was living in holiness and sincerity—always and everywhere—not because of his wisdom, but because of God’s grace; his message and his actions were consistent.
- Paul’s critics accused him of being insincere and deceitful in his letters (2 Corinthians 10:10).
- He answered: 2 Corinthians 1:13-14a (NLT)—13Our letters have been straightforward, and there is nothing written between the lines and nothing you can’t understand. I hope someday you will fully understand us, 14aeven if you don’t understand us now. …
- Paul stated that his letters were clear, so the Corinthian believers could not excuse their disobedience by saying they misunderstood.
- Paul then addressed the accusation that he was unreliable and indecisive because he did not visit the Corinthians when he said he would (1 Corinthians 16:5-7).
- 2 Corinthians 1:17-18 (NLT)—17You may be asking why I changed my plan. Do you think I make my plans carelessly? Do you think I am like people of the world who say “Yes” when they really mean “No”?
18As surely as God is faithful, our word to you does not waver between “Yes” and “No.”
- Paul asserted that he lived with integrity, faithfully, like God, because of God’s Spirit.
- 2 Corinthians 1:21-22 (NLT)—21It is God who enables us, along with you, to stand firm for Christ. He has commissioned us, 22and He has identified us as His own by placing the Holy Spirit in our hearts as the first installment that guarantees everything He has promised us.
- Then Paul explained why he didn’t return to Corinth as he said he would.
- 2 Corinthians 1:23-24 (NLT)—23Now I call upon God as my witness that I am telling the truth. The reason I didn’t return to Corinth was to spare you from a severe rebuke. 24But that does not mean we want to dominate you by telling you how to put your faith into practice. We want to work together with you so you will be full of joy, for it is by your own faith that you stand firm.
- Paul delayed his visit because he wanted the Corinthians to repent and correct their problems by their own decision, instead of being forced to comply by his presence, so instead of going in person, he sent a letter (either 1 Corinthians or the stern 3rd letter).
- 2 Corinthians 2:4 (NLT)—I wrote that letter in great anguish, with a troubled heart and many tears. [1 Corinthians or stern 3rd letter] I didn’t want to grieve you, but I wanted to let you know how much love I have for you. [To cause them to remove the rebellion.]
- APP.: If we live with integrity, honest in all of our words and actions, attitudes and motivations, we can have the confidence to stand for Christ and fear no accusation.
I stand firm for Christ because I have…
C. #3 - Commitment to forgiveness. (2 Corinthians 2:5-11. C/R: Matthew 6:14-15; Luke 17:3-4; Colossians 3:12-13; James 5:19-20)
- Apparently the Corinthians responded to Paul’s letter by disciplining the person who was the object of Paul’s rebuke (Paul’s out-spoken critic; 2 Corinthians 2:3).
- 2 Corinthians 2:5-8 (NLT)—5I am not overstating it when I say that the man who caused all the trouble hurt all of you more than he hurt me. [Though the attack was aimed at undermining Paul’s authority.] 6Most of you opposed him, and that was punishment enough. 7Now, however, it is time to forgive and comfort him. Otherwise he may be overcome by discouragement. 8So I urge you now to reaffirm your love for him.
- Paul was unconcerned about the personal offense against him; rather, he cared about the spiritual well-being of the offending man and promoting harmony in the church.
- 2 Corinthians 2:10-11 (NLT)—10When you forgive this man, I forgive him, too. And when I forgive whatever needs to be forgiven, I do so with Christ’s authority for your benefit, 11so that Satan will not outsmart us. For we are familiar with his evil schemes.
- Unforgiveness toward Paul’s critic could split the congregation and allow Satan to plant resentment, which will destroy a church’s reputation and influence in a community.
- APP.: Are you committed to forgiveness when you are wronged? You can’t stand firm for Christ with an unforgiving spirit—because that makes you unlike Christ.
- If you want help to forgive, counselors will be here at front and Care Connection room.
Memory verse: 2 Corinthians 1:9 (NLT)—In fact, we expected to die. But as a result, we stopped relying on ourselves and learned to rely only on God, who raises the dead.