Many times I have written that the purpose of the Christian faith is aimed at making believers perfect. In Christ we have the ability to become perfect, and we are told by Jesus Christ that we MUST become perfect if we are to stand before God.
Jesus made tis comment as one of the teachings in the sermon on the mount, saying, “You, therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:48) Perfection was not indicated as a suggestion for us. He did not say it would be nice if we could be perfect. Jesus told us clearly that you MUST be perfect.
So given that this was a command of the Lord, we need to seek and find the way that this can be done. We are fortunate that the work of perfection is not ours alone, but we still need to seek how this is to be done in Jesus Christ, and to understand what this perfection is. The verse in 2 Corinthians 7:1 gives us some clues.
The grace of God has been given for all people to be able to come to Christ when and if they accept God’s grace. The invitation is open to all mankind, but it is up to each and every person to accept God’s inviting grace and so be saved from their sins through His grace.
The great thing about the grace of God is that it does not fade or go away. His grace is always there and ready so that we may receive His salvation. His grace is a constant and it both saves and forgives when we fall.
But we must first accept His grace, which we are able to do only by coming to God through Jesus Christ. God’s grace was made available and salvation made possible only by the sacrifice of Jesus. It is through Christ that God’s grace is made effective in our lives and understanding how His grace works through Christ is an important part of our walk.
Reconciliation is an interesting word and process. It is used in many different senses, but in all cases it means the same things.
Reconciliation is a process of coming together to bring two (or more) things into alignment and into balance. In business we see accountants who reconcile accounts to ensure the finances of the business balance. In the home we see people reconcile their checking accounts to make sure their home finances balance. In relationships they go out of balance, the process of reconciliation is necessary to restore the broken relationship.
And what we see here in the Bible is where God is bringing balance and alignment back between himself and mankind to restore the relationship that has been broken through sin. It is the active working of God’s grace that enables man to be reconciled to God and God has given us this ministry so that we can come to the place where we stand before Him righteous.
“18 All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. 20 So we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We beseech you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”
Because we are not perfect and because we all make many mistakes there will be disputes amongst the brethren in the church from time to time. The Lord knows that we are all works in progress and as such we will say and do things that are not appropriate for people bearing the name of Christians.
God extends His grace to His people to cover the many faults and issues that occur from time to time until His work is complete in us and the Holy Spirit transforms us into the image of Jesus Christ, which is perfection.
And we need to learn to similarly extend grace to each other when we are wronged or suffer wrong and Moreno when we have offended or done wrong to another. That is part of our call as Christians. We are learning how to live in the grace of God and this life begins in how we learn to live together as the family of God now.
Here in this scripture Paul upbraids the Corinthian church who not only failed to live in grace with each other but took their grievances to the unholy human courts.
The gospel of the good news of Jesus Christ is not a complex, complicated, convoluted message. It is a simple gospel designed by God to be easily understood by anyone and everyone.
It is men who seek to lord it over others and it is the devil who seeks to confuse those who would seek Jesus Christ that make it seem complex.
Complexity was never God's intention nor is it His way to make it hard for us to understand His will. His will is for all mankind to come to a knowledge of the truth in Jesus Christ so that He can save all mankind. Unfortunately not all will come and seek Him out and so many will be lost. But that is not the fault of God due to any complexities in the gospel. It is the fault of those who choose to reject God and reject the simplicity of the gospel of salvation in Jesus Christ.
Paul begins this section with statements about the foolishness of what we as Christians believe. He talks about it as the foolishness of God and the folly of the word of the gospel and the death of Jesus Christ. He makes the point that to the rest of the world, what we believe does appear to be foolishness and folly.
And let's face it, who amongst Christians has not been called a fool and had our beliefs scoffed at or scorned by non-believers as foolishness? I am sure that we have all been through such attacks, and if not yet, it will happen at some time.
But Paul shows us here the difference between the thinking of men in this world and the thinking of God. For what a man perceives as folly and foolishness, God has accepted as the pathway to life. God established this pathway and these so-called “foolish beliefs” for a very definite reason, which is worth considering for a moment.
In these few verses Paul gives thanks to God for what God has done with the church at Corinth. At a high level when we read between the lines we see that Paul is expressing thanks for the work done in the knowledge that this work is not his own work, nor the work of those at Corinth, but is the work of God.
How does God work in the church to effect change among the people? Again the answer is in these few verses for we see that what Paul is thanking God for is the great and wondrous gifts that God gave to the church that brought them out of the world to where they were in Christ Jesus, and that would continue to protect and hold them in His name until the end.
There are a few interesting aspects to these verses and these gifts that are worth looking into and that is what this study today will cover.
The coming of the Lord Jesus Christ some two thousand years ago was a pivotal point for all peoples of the world. It was the marking of the end of one age and the beginning of the next age, and the precise point at which the change took place was at the death of Jesus Christ.
In His death He issued in and ratified the New Covenant and by it all mankind entered this age of hope.
The prior age was the age of selection through descendancy. It was where those who were chosen to be God's people were selected on the basis of being the descendants of Abraham who was called “the friend of God”. In that age it was the physical, fleshly descendants of Abraham who were the special chosen people of God. And in that age the law was given to rule and control the weaknesses of the people and priests were appointed to teach the people wisdom.
But this all changed at the death of Jesus when the new age came into being. The age of hope for all mankind began.
If there is one attribute of Jesus Christ that He epitomized and which we are to aspire to it is humility.
There is no way that any person can or will be able to enter the kingdom of God unless they are humble. Not a presence of humility, but humble through and through to the very core of their being.
This verse in Romans 12:3 as I read it screams out humility to me, defining and describing in some way what it means to be humble. Here we see how a person ought to think and behave if they are to show the true humility without which no one will see God.
In days of old God gave man the law of Moses. He gave this law to the children of Israel to guide them as to what was right and to keep sin in check. The Israelites followed the law for a while but they strayed from the right path which led to the opportunity for the rest of the world to come to God through Jesus Christ.
But for all the good, the justice and righteousness that the law defined, there was one major flaw. Man could not keep it.
There was nothing wrong with the law but man was unable to keep the law. And because man could not keep the law but continually failed, the law was never going to bring a man to perfection. The law was never going to make a person righteous before God because it could not transform anyone from the nature of sin to the nature of God.