ENDURE | Courage in Weakness PART III | Enduring Guarantee | 2 Corinthians 1:12-22

January 24, 2021 Speaker: Christopher Rich Series: ENDURE: Courage in Weakness | 2 Corinthians

Topic: New Testament Passage: 2 Corinthians 1:12–22

Christopher Rich – January 24, 2021

ENDURE | Courage in Weakness 

PART II | Enduring Guarantee | 2 Corinthians 1:12-22


Introduction | What do you rely on? 

Good Morning! Welcome to Mercy Fellowship where we are Saved by Jesus Work, Changed by Jesus’ Grace, and Living on Jesus’s Mission. Today we are continuing our series ENDURE: Courage in Weakness.  


What do you rely on? What is it that you look at or to for stability, direction, or consistency? If we’re Christians or in the church we “know” it God, He’s faithful, but that doesn’t mean we actually respond to the world and others like God is actually reliable. Because there is what we say and “know” but then there is how we functionally believe, act and respond. Comforted with the Gospel, but then we quickly begin to seek reliability in others. There are few things in life we find truly reliable. We plan, prepare, and promise but we are rarely able to provide a guarantee of significant flourishing on our own. If we are going to have courage, we need our faith placed where endurance can be guaranteed. Relying on people will leave us disappointed.


When has someone let you down? When has someone else disappointed you? How have you responded? Why did it sting so much? Why is it the people we care the most about who we rely on the most are the ones who have the greatest capacity to frustrated or upset us?  Was it because you had expectations that were unrealistic, or because we didn’t really understand the whole picture? Or maybe the just legit failed. What about when we consider leadership, who we trust, who we follow. We seek reliability and we seek integrity. We want leaders in our lives, homes, churches, and communities we can rely on for a sense of stability, strength, to encourage us to continue on. We need to be grounded beyond ourselves or other imperfect people if we are going to be truly comforted in the midst of affliction, difficulty or pain. We need our reliance shifted from inward, or outward, to upward and onward!


PART I |We are Weak, Inconsistent, and Unreliable | 2 Corinthians 1:12-17

2 Cor 1:12-17 | 12 For our boast is this, the testimony of our conscience, that we behaved in the world with simplicity and godly sincerity, not by earthly wisdom but by the grace of God, and supremely so toward you. 13 For we are not writing to you anything other than what you read and understand and I hope you will fully understand— 14 just as you did partially understand us—that on the day of our Lord Jesus you will boast of us as we will boast of you. 15 Because I was sure of this, I wanted to come to you first, so that you might have a second experience of grace. 16 I wanted to visit you on my way to Macedonia, and to come back to you from Macedonia and have you send me on my way to Judea. 17 Was I vacillating when I wanted to do this? Do I make my plans according to the flesh, ready to say “Yes, yes” and “No, no” at the same time?


What is happening here? Paul changed his mind about coming to Corinth. This is a bit of an explanation of why Paul hasn’t come through for them the way they wanted or expected. These are some answers to some accusations. They have apparently said he wasn’t sincere or clear in his reasoning, used worldly wisdom, even had a lack of integrity (simplicity holiness word). Paul is defensive a bit, but in part because they were less than gracious. He did change his plans.. You’re double minded (you say yes and no in the same breath) you’re not reliable. They challenged both how he engages with “the world” and how he engaged with them. He didn’t show up when they thought he would, but he did have a “painful visit (v2:1)” because there were still issues which were unresolved which Paul had asked them to address. They were slow in being responsive. They are not exactly the most consistent and reliable people on the planet either. If you read 1 Corinthians you had deep divisions, selfishness, lack of generosity (still addressed here too in chapter 8-9)) sexual immorality. They are people in great need of God’s grace, received it, but don’t give it. 


Gospel Culture of Grace - Be Charitable and Be Gracious. Not every time something or someone doesn’t come through the way we want to mean they had bad intentions.  None of us are perfect. Even Paul, disappointed these people. They found themselves even disillusioned by him and no longer where interested in his influence. Because Paul care about them he’s not willing to reject them but rather reshape their culture.


Hard Questions - Author and Therapist Brene Brown asks the question often “do you think most people are doing the best they can?” I can often come up with the answer “no”. But what drives that? Usually because I assume people can do better (I’m judgmental) or because I am aware of my own sense of failure. I have an internal voice that tells me “I’m not good enough” or “I could do so much better” so when I am judgmental of myself or in graciously beating myself up it is SO much easier to be harsh with others or assume they just need to step it up. When we say “yes” we might be acting with more graciousness and charity towards others but still might struggle to believe we’re doing our “best”. To be clear because of sin none of us are truly doing our “best” but part of sin in “inequity” which is “bent-out-of-shapeness.” Also, we are in a fallen imperfect world so there are environments and circumstances that absolutely hinder our flourishing. Recognizing this in ourselves and others and reacting should lead us to greater humility. 


Mutual Respect - Relying on the grace of God. They could have worried about him or asked how they could have supported him but instead they just highlighted his ‘inconsistency’ in their eyes. Boasting in the Day of the Lord. At some point everything will be known, all motives of the heart and all understanding of circumstances will become known and Paul is confident that they’ll understand. He is encouraging them towards greater humility and empathy over prideful callousness. Basically, he had a good reason If we knew the whole story maybe we’d be more gracious rather than less. Part of mutual respect and a culture of grace is curiosity. When you hear another’s stories or become more aware of their experiences it can be incredibly illuminating in understanding why they might act or react the ways they do. 


Gracious Vulnerability - He’s leading with more vulnerability before it’s been earned or might be considered “safe”. He’s told them of his depression and despair, how it dove him despise of life itself. He has wanted them to “not be uninformed” of their trials in Asia. So by the time he’s explaining why he hasn’t shown up he has given them a window in to his difficulty. His deepest desire for them is that they would know and experience God’s grace and he’s helping to lead by being gracious to them. Specifically, he’s giving them the opportunity to reconsider how they see things in light of more information. But the truth remains even good leaders are not perfect. We will find fault, we will find inconsistencies, but we can also seek to impart or project wrong motives when expectations are not met when the intention (even actions) are less than stelar.


We are Weak, Inconsistent, and Unreliable (1:12-17) – We can only guarantee what we are able to produce or protect. However, we are simply not strong enough to overcome, consistent enough to be trusted, or faithful enough to guarantee endurance in the midst of difficulty. Thankfully we are not our only option. 


Paul can be accused of “vacillating” because he’s just a man. We sometimes think God vacillates. Maybe He was for us during a certain season, but now we’ve fallen out of His good grace. Maybe God is an inconsistent as we are. So we can begin to believe God is unreliable because we think God is like us. 

PART II |God is always Faithful | 2 Cor 1:18-20

2 Cor 1:18-20 |18 As surely as God is faithful, our word to you has not been Yes and No. 19 For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, whom we proclaimed among you, Silvanus and Timothy and I, was not Yes and No, but in him it is always Yes. 20 For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory. 


God is Always Faithful. He has fulfilled all His Promises in Christ (1:18-20) –. By boasting in the Lord, Paul points the Corinthians to who they can truly rely on. See part of his defensives about his character and in a sense even his reliability is because in be being charged with being inconsistent and unreliable in his presence action Paul’s opponents in Corinth are also seeking to undermine his authority and clarity around the doctrine and Gospel he’s spoken and written to them “our word” to them that he preach, as well as Silvanus and Timothy, was insincere, was compromised in integrity, didn’t vacillate, wasn’t double minded but was and is in fact both holistically true and reliable. He is going to bring them back to the big questions about God. Is he worthy of trusting? Can he be relied on for comfort and courage in our weakness. It is a question that has rung out for from humanity for eons whose affirmative answer is our greatest hope. 


Numbers 23:15 | God is not man, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should change his mind. Has he said, and will he not do it? Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it?

Jesus is the proof that all God has said isn’t vain empty promises but the fullness of affirmative comfort. We don’t have a lack of clarity about Christ. Everything God has ever said about how He will love, protect, save, bless His people finds it’s “yes” in Christ.  In our weakness we are strengthened by the grace of God. When we are floundering, we are steadied by the faithfulness of God. When we are discouraged, we can have hope in the reliability of God who fulfills all of His divine promise in Christ Jesus. Jesus is the point of the Bible. 


There is no good news without Jesus, so all of our focus should be on Christ. Jesus, fully God, fully man, lived the life we have all failed to live, died the death we all deserve for our sin. Dead, buried, and resurrected so we can have life now and forever. After His resurrection Jesus comes to the disciples on the Emmaus Road in Luke 24 and says you cannot read the OT without knowing it’s about me. If so, you’re doing it wrong. The Bible is like all the spokes on a wheel converging on the Hub which is Jesus. From the beginning phrases of Gen “In the Beginning God….” to the final promise of Malachi that God would show up in the “day of the Lord” it is a story human failure and frailty with passing glimpse of glory and something missing to fill the longing we have for things to be better than they are. If you read the whole OT without looking through the lens of it being about Jesus, it’s not Good News about a hero who shows up and saves and a God who is faithful when we’re faithless. It’s a tragedy, about people being consistent, but only in our failure and rejection of God. And a God who makes promises but now has delayed in actually coming through. Who at times intervenes in even miraculous ways but who brings short term relief at best, not lasting redemption or restoration. The longer we get from the end of the OT is not more time responding to Jesus arrival but instead is a longer period of God’s silence. If the Corinthians think Paul is unreliable for not showing up when they expected him to, what would they think of God delaying. We don’t have to wonder if God is delaying because God has already shown up in Christ. When sin enters into the world and God promises to crush satan in Gen 3. To bless all the nations of the earth in Gen 11. In Exodus, when His people are enslaved and oppressed, He promises to take his people from slavery, sustain them in wilderness to lead them to a promised land. When imperfect kings are ruling inconsistently, He promises to have a king who will reign with justice and righteousness. When religious observance the law are unreliable, and leaders are impure He promises a new covenant with the law written in our hearts and a perfect High Priest. Exiles are promised home. A broken world will be healed and made new. Will God do this? In Jesus the answer is unequivocally yes! 

God’s promises are true in Christ and God’s blessings are real through Christ. We know we are loved and pursued because Christ arrival into history, and we know we have access to God because Christ’s current position as our petitioner before the throne of God.  We also speak back to God through Christ. He’s our advocate. Our sin shames us and keeps us from God. Our Christ brings us to God so we can with boldness and confidence say “amen” (Hebrew “it is true” or so be it) about how good and glorious God is! 


PART III | Established by the Holy Spirit | 2 Cor 1:21-22

2 Cor 1:21-22 | 21 And it is God who establishes us with you in Christ, and has anointed us, 22 and who has also put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.


Good theology helps us understand our biography – We might be weak, inconsistent, and unreliable but that does not define our identity. The whole trinity has worked together to ensure our endurance. Paul Shifts from God’s promises in the past to God’s presence and power in the present to propel us into a better future. 


God the Father (The Father of mercies) establishes us - This “us” that is established is a gospel community. It’s Paul, the Corinthians, me, and you who God the Father has brought into His family. To establish is both to build (as a people) and “stand-firm” strengthened to live as members of God’s family of grace and mercy. 


United with Christ, anointed for Him – our new identity is found “in Christ”. It is not just a new position but a new purpose. He says when we are In Christ we are “anointed” that is a term reserved for kings, prophets, and priest during a time of their inauguration or commissioning. It means we have been given a divine purpose to love, serve, and spread good news to a world who is in desperate need of it. So we are built, brought together, united “in Christ” and anointed to serve. How are we anointed? By the Holy Spirit. 


God has shown us His intentions for us by giving us the Holy Spirit. God’s past faithfulness in Christ is now confirmed with God’s present guarantee through the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit will seal those chosen by the Father and saved by the Son on the cross. Sealed it is like the seal on a letter, or brand on cattle. Wax ring saying this message is mine and you can trust that what is declared will come to pass. It is a mark of ownership, of possession. Through faith in Jesus you are “owned/possessed” by God. You are His. Knowing you are God’s and that life eternal with Him is secure as he has lavishly given you His grace should bring you great peace. This is incredible to consider our eternal relationship with God is not dependent on the strength and perseverance of our will and our faithfulness but of the God the Holy Spirit. God’s plan gives us a sense of peace and security that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion Phil 1:6


Guarantee means down payment or deposit. Also means “pledge” like engagement. A down payment is a commitment to keep paying. To faithfully show up in the time and place of need.  Engagement is the promise that something even better is going happen in the future. We’re only experiencing the “earnest money” amount of the fullness of the Holy Spirit’s work in our lives now. Greater things are yet to come, until then we rest in God’s plan and will for us. Us finishing our “race” is not dependent on their power but on God who has “sealed” them. Leads us to humility gentleness, kindness, where we give each other the benefit of the doubt. Faith Jesus Christ alone gives us guarantee of an eternal inheritance as we are delivered to the Father by the Spirit’s power and not our own.  We don’t Endure Ourselves. We have Been Established by the Holy Spirit God is not a booster shot we take so we can keep going. He is the one who is building us up individually, building us together with His people, and propelling us on His mission. We can continue knowing our endurance is guaranteed not by our strength in us but by the seal of the Holy Spirit on us. As we Trust Jesus!