Paul’s Methods - Page 1 of 9 (series: Lessons on 2nd Cor.)

by John Lowe
(Woodruff, S.C.)

July 2, 2014

Tom Lowe
The Second Epistle of Paul to the Corinthians


Lesson II.B.6.c: Paul’s Methods. (6:1-10)

2nd Corinthians 6:1-10 (NKJV)
1 We then, as workers together with Him also plead with you not to receive the grace of God in vain.
2 For He says: "In an acceptable time I have heard you, And in the day of salvation I have helped you." Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.
3 We give no offense in anything, that our ministry may not be blamed.
4 But in all things we commend ourselves as ministers of God: in much patience, in tribulations, in needs, in distresses,
5 in stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labors, in sleeplessness, in fastings;
6 by purity, by knowledge, by longsuffering, by kindness, by the Holy Spirit, by sincere love,
7 by the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armor of righteousness on the right hand and on the left,
8 by honor and dishonor, by evil report and good report; as deceivers, and yet true;
9 as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold we live; as chastened, and yet not killed;
10 as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things.


Commentary

1 We then, as workers together with Him also plead with you not to receive the grace of God in vain.

We then, as workers together with him
Christian ministers, and to a smaller degree Christians in general, are workers or laborers; their ministry is a work, and a very labor intensive one, but none of them, of themselves, have strength equal to the task. It is an honorable work that requires faithfulness and diligence, and those who perform it as it should be done deserve respect. These ministers do not work alone, but according to what is written here, they are “workers together with him”; meaning either God or Christ; not on a par with Him, but as subordinate to Him: he is the chief shepherd, they under-shepherds; He is the chief master builder, they are workers under Him. Their work is successful because He is with them, and they with him; he is over them, and stands by them, and encourages them in their work.

There is another explanation of this verse which follows this reasoning: The phrase, "with him", is not in the original text; and “workers together” may be rendered "fellow workers", or "fellow laborers", which means working with one another; and since reconciliation was made by Christ, and the ministry of reconciliation was committed to His ministers, and they were appointed ambassadors for Him, and were working in his place, therefore, they say, “We then, as workers together also plead with you not to receive the grace of God in vain.” Compare:
• 1 Corinthians 3:9: “For we are laborers together with God: you are God's husbandry, you are God's building.” Though compared with God we are nothing, yet our position is not unimportant; God works as the principal effectual Cause, we work with God as His instruments; God works in one way, by His secret influence upon the heart, we work in another way, by personally telling the Gospel to people, but the scope and end of the work is the same.
• Acts 15.4: “And when they were come to Jerusalem, they were received of the church, and of the apostles and elders, and they declared all things that God had done with them.” The Apostles deemed themselves fellow-workers with God (see Mark 16:20), but we know from Acts 15:12 that they were only instruments whom God employed, for their labors are spoken of as “what God had wrought among the Gentiles by them.”
• 2 Corinthians 5:20: “Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be you reconciled to God.” “Now then we are ambassadors for Christ,” means that we are the ambassadors whom Christ has sent forth to negotiate with people in regard to their reconciliation to God.

“We then, as workers together with him:” ministers of the gospel are fellow workers together with Christ; though but as instruments, serving Him as the principal Agent, and effectual Cause: He trod the wine press of His Father’s wrath alone, and had no partner in the purchase of man’s salvation; but in the application of the purchased salvation, He has fellow workers. Though the internal work is done by Him alone—the effects of his Spirit upon the souls of those whose hearts are changed—yet there is a ministerial component, which consists of preaching and witnessing, whereby the gospel is conveyed by the ear to the soul; thus ministers work together with Christ. And without Him they can do nothing: they are workers, but they must have Christ work with them, or they will find that they labour in vain.

Most

expositors have concurred in this interpretation: “we then as the joint-laborers of God.” The sense is that we work together; we work together under God’s direction in order to produce the desired result—the saving of a soul.

“Also plead with you not to receive the grace of God in vain.”
The "grace of God" is used here to mean the gracious offer of reconciliation and pardon. And the meaning conveyed here is, “We plead with you not to neglect or reject this offer of pardon, so that you lose the benefit of it, and remain lost. It is offered freely and fully. It may be partaken of by all, and all may be saved. But it may also be rejected or ignored, and all the benefits of it will then be lost.” The idea is, that it was possible that this offer might be made to them, they might hear of a Saviour, be told of the plan of reconciliation and have the offers of mercy presented to them for their acceptance, and yet all be in vain. They might in spite of all this be lost, for simply to hear of the plan of salvation or the offers of mercy, will no more save a sinner than to hear of medicine will save the sick. It must be embraced and applied to the soul, or it will be in vain. It is true that Paul probably addressed these remarks to religious people; and the implication is that they should use all possible care to insure that these offers had not been made in vain. They should examine their own hearts; they should inquire into their own condition; they should guard against self-deception. These are the same persons Paul had exhorted in 2 Corinthians 5:20 to be reconciled to God; and the idea is that he would earnestly implore even professors of religion to give all diligence to securing an interest in the saving mercy of the gospel, and to guard against the possibility of being self-deceived and miss the opportunity to be saved.

Announcing “the grace of God” is the chief aim of the gospel. Compare:
• Acts 13:43: “Now when the congregation was broken up, many of the Jews and religious proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas: who, speaking to them, persuaded them to continue in the grace of God.” It would appear from this that they professed to have received the truth and embraced the Lord Jesus. This success was remarkable, and shows the power of the gospel when it is preached faithfully to people. The “gospel” is called the grace (favor) of God and they were exhorted to persevere in their attachment to it.
• Acts 20:24: “But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear to myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.” To bear witness to the good news of the favor of God is the great purpose of the ministry. It is to bear witness to a dying world of the good news that God is merciful, and that his goodwill may be made evident to sinners.

If you really are in Christ you must show that you have become “a new creation”—“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17). Creature is literally, “creation,” and so it is a phrase which speaks of the greatest change imaginable, and a change wrought in the soul by no other power than the power of God. And since we are "in Christ," and "God was in Christ"—“To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, not imputing their trespasses to them; and has committed to us the word of reconciliation” (2Co 5:19). The meaning is, that the office of making known the nature of this plan, and the conditions on which God was willing to be reconciled to man, had been committed to the ministers of the gospel. What the grace of God is meant to bring about is set down in Titus 2:11, 12: “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age.” The education which the Christian receives from “the grace” of God is a discipline often demanding to flesh and blood: just as children need disciplining. The discipline which it exercises teaches us to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts, and to live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world where such self-discipline is needed, seeing that its spirit is opposed to God (Tit 1:12, 16; 1Co 1:20; 3:18, 19): in the coming world we may gratify every desire without need of self-discipline, because all desires there will be conformable to the will of God.




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