Sunday, September 25, 2011

September 25, 2011 | John Bayles | Go Into All The World: An Obedient Passion (2 Corinthians 5:14-6:1)

In a time of trial and suffering, the Apostle Paul writes to the Church in Corinth for a third time. In his first two letters, he invested a great deal of time seeking to draw back these new Christians from the brink of the disaster of trying to live as if all the benefits of the resurrection of the Lord had already taken place. The result of this over-realized eschatology (or view of the end) had plummeted the church into unhealthy and ungodly practices of denying the propriety of the marriage covenant and engaging in disruptive and disturbing worship practices more identified with pagans. They had become tangled up in a degrading of marriage, a hyper indulgent view of sexuality, the wholesale speaking in tongues in the guise of being "like the angels", and dishonoring the communion table by drunkenness and gluttony.

In this second letter, having taken a strong corrective turn, the church is now facing other confusing and distracting forces - trial and suffering. They had drifted into a compromise of their faith and calling. For the sake of safety, they were becoming integrated into their surroundings and had quickly become compromised by the influences around them rather than being a witness of the Gospel. Paul challenges the viewpoint that God could achieve His goals of reaching the lost without them, or worse that He did not need them in His redemptive plan.

In this poignant message, the apostle admonishes his hearers that they are not only the recipients of salvation, but as such have been brought directly into the action of reaching the lost. Not only were they to try their best to advance the message of the Gospel, they were God's sole means of doing so. Paul elevates the redemptive plan by stressing that they were God's mouthpiece and authorized ambassadors for spreading the message of Christ's redeeming work to the four winds of the earth. Denial, assimilation, and compromise were not options in light of God's will to spread the Gospel to Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the uttermost parts of the earth.

The lesson for us? We are in the same time-frame of the end. The old has gone, the new has come. As new age, new covenant people, we too come under the same mandate of the Lord's final commission. Our calling as recipients is to be communicators to the lost sheep for who Christ came and died. We too need to see that we are the redeemed who have been empowered to reach the yet to be redeemed. The chain cannot be broken. We too are called to go into all the world and preach the Gospel to every nation until all for whom Christ died are reached.

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