Today’s selected reading continues in the second epistle of the apostle Paul written unto the saints at Corinth which is found in the New Testament. More specifically, today’s passage is found in verses fourteen through seventeen of the second chapter. When this particular passage opens and begins it does so with the apostle Paul referencing the previous letter he had written unto the Corinthian congregation, as well as perhaps a subsequent visit on the heels of that letter. One thing we must recognize concerning the first epistle which Paul wrote unto the Corinthian congregation is that it was weighty in both tone and language. In fact, the apostle Paul acknowledges the sorrow and grief that may have ensued upon receiving that letter within and among the members of the Corinthian congregation. When the apostle Paul open Abe begins this second chapter of this second epistle he acknowledges that it was with much affliction and anguish of heart he wrote that first letter unto the church of God which was at Corinth. What’s more, is the apostle Paul writes that it was with many years he wrote that first letter unto the church of God knowing perhaps the tremendous sorrow and grief that letter would cause the members of that church. With that being said, however, there seems to be every indication the church of God which was at Corinth received the words of the Paul, as well as the correction and instruction that was found therein. This is actually incredibly important for us to recognize, for it strikes at the berry heart of whether or not we as the saints God can in fact receive—and only receive, but also respond to correction and instruction.
I previously wrote concerning the tremendous need for correction and instruction in righteousness after mentioning various references within the New Testament concerning the power of the word of God and how it is profitable for reproving, for rebuking, for correction, and for instruction in righteousness. In fact, when writing his own epistle that is found within the New Testament, James writes concerning the word of God that it is like a mirror into which a man may look and see himself clearly and for who he really is. In all reality, I am convinced this is one of the greatest reasons why so many have an issue with Abe take great offense to the word of God, for many have absolutely no desire to see and understand who and what they truly are. When the apostle Paul wrote the first epistle unto the Corinthian congregation it was essentially holding up a giant mirror to show and reveal unto them their desperate condition before a just and holy God. The first epistle which Paul wrote unto the saints of God which were at Corinth was designed and intended to bring them face to face and confront them with the tremendous truth of who they are and who they were as the church of God which was in Corinth. The church of God which was at Corinth was established over a period of eighteen months as Paul, Silas and Timothy preached the word and the gospel concerning Jesus the Christ. For eighteen months these three men—perhaps together with Aquila and Priscilla—labored together among the inhabitants and residents of Corinth effectively ministering unto them. In fact, like records that many within Corinth believed and were baptized upon hearing the preaching of the gospel concerning Jesus Christ, and receiving the ministry of the word of God as evident and manifested through Christian labour and service.
LABOR UNTIL THE JOB GETS DONE! WORK UNTIL THE WORK IS COMPLETED! The more I consider the account of Paul, and Silas and Timothy in Corinth, the more I can’t help but find these three men willing to labour until the job got done. These three men spent eighteen months in a city which Jesus Christ Himself promised His presence would be in, and declared that He has many people within that city. What a powerful declaration was that which Jesus spoke unto the apostle Paul, for not only did He promise ahis presence would be with him as the Lord promised unto men in the Old Testament such as Moses and Joshua, but the Lord also declared and confirmed that he had many people within that city. I can’t help but be gripped by our Lord’s declaration unto the apostle concerning having many people within the city, for when the apostle Paul initially entered into the city, we read how he encountered Aquila and Priscilla who had left Italy due to instruction for all the Jews to leave that place. I can’t help but wonder when the apostle Paul entered into the city of Corinth if he truly understood and recognized the tremendous number of believers the Lord had within that city. What’s more, is that the Lord’s promise of His presence, as well as His declaration concerning His having many people within the city came before we read of the apostle Paul spending eighteen months laboring among the inhabitants of Corinth. What’s even more compelling is that immediately after Paul had shaken his raiment in Corinth among the Jews and declared that from that moment forward he would go only unto the Gentiles, we read of Crispus, the chief ruler of the synagogue, believing on the Lord, together with all his house. Furthermore, we also read that many of the Corinthians upon hearing the words of the apostle Paul believed, and were baptized. You will notice that it wasn’t until after Paul had gone into the house of Justus, and after Crispus and his entire household believed on the Lord, and after many of the Corinthians upon hearing the words of Paul believed, that the Lord appeared to the apostle at night by a vision and promised His presence and declared His having many people within the city.
I have to admit that I am completely and utterly captivated by the declaration which the Lord made to the apostle Paul at night concerning His having many people within the city, for there is not a doubt in my mind that when the apostle Paul entered into the city of Corinth for the very first time he had absolutely no idea what to expect. I do not believe for one minute the apostle Paul went into the city of Corinth with any expectation other than to preach the gospel concerning Jesus the Christ. I can’t help but wonder what it was like for the apostle Paul upon not only hearing the promise of the Lord’s presence, but also hearing the Lord’s declaration that He had many people within that city. What I so love about this passage of Scripture is that despite the fact that the Jews opposed themselves and blasphemed, and despite the apparent opposition the apostle Paul faced in Corinth, the Lord appeared to him by night in a vision and instructed him to be not afraid, but to speak, and to hold not his peace. Is it possible that after Crispus—together with his entire household—believed on the Lord Jesus the Christ, and after many of the Corinthians who heard also believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, the apostle Paul would have assumed take his leave from the city, and to journey wherever the Lord would lead him next. Is it possible that it was necessary for the Lord to appear unto the apostle Paul that night by a vision in order to encourage him to continue the ministry within that city—despite the fact that the Jews present within the city opposed themselves and blasphemed. There is a tremendous and powerful prophetic truth contained within this passage, and I can’t help but wonder how many men and women would have given up within the city of Corinth and among the inhabitants of the city after the opposition of the Jews within the city. How many men and women are perfectly fine and willing to minister when the conditions are conducive and convenient for them, yet they aren’t willing to stick it out in the face of opposition, in the face of persecution, in the face of affliction, in the face of trial, in the face of troubles, and the like.
I am convinced it would, and perhaps even could have been very easy for the apostle Paul to shake the dust off his feet and wipe his hands with the city of Corinth and its inhabitants, and transition to the next city along his way. It would have been very easy to—in the face of the opposition and blaspheming of the Jews—take his leave from the city of Corinth, abandon its citizens, and transition to the next city, town or village. Pause for a moment and consider that word which was just mentioned—the word “abandon”—for when you read this particular passage of Scripture, one might get the strong impression that had the apostle Paul taken his leave and journeyed from the city of Corinth to another city within the province of Asia, the inhabitants of that city—those who believed on the Lord and were baptized could very well have felt abandoned and neglected. What’s more, and is if this weren’t enough, I am convinced it was necessary for the apostle Paul to spend those eighteen months in the city of Corinth, for it wasn’t enough for the inhabitants of the city to believe and to be baptized. Oh, I am powerfully convinced that there are countless ministers who stop and fall so short when it comes to the ministry of the word and the ministry of the Gospel, for they would just assume stop once an individual believes and is baptized. There are men and women who treat an individual believing on the Lord and being baptized as a notch on their belt, and they cease any further investment into the life of that individual. There are countless ministers who are with you up until the moment you believe on the Lord and are saved and baptized, yet once that moment arrives for you, they have no further part within your life, within your Christian growth, and within your spiritual maturity. I find it to be absolutely incredible that the apostle Paul spent eighteen months within the city of Corinth among the inhabitants therein, for it was necessary—not only to continue preaching in order that as many as the Lord would have would believe on Him and be baptized, but also instruct them in righteousness. I am convinced the apostle Paul remained within the city of Corinth so as to provide them with continued instruction in righteousness and what they needed to do in response to their believing on the Lord, and being baptized.
I’LL GET YOU TO THE DOOR, BUT YOU’RE ON YOUR OWN AFTER THAT! I’LL GET YOU THROUGH THE GATE, BUT YOU HAVE TO FIGURE IT OUT FOR YOURSELF AFTER THAT! I believe with all my heart there are a number of ministers who are willing to get men and women to the door of their salvation, yet the minute those men and women arrive at the door and walk through, they offer no further investment and/or activity within their lives. I believe there are a number of men and women who are willing to provide assistance in getting others through the gate, but once they make their way through the gate, they are then left to figure out the path which is before them on their own. INVESTMENT BEYOND THE CROSS! INVESTMENT BEYOND THE GRAVE AND THE TOMB! This is perhaps one of the greatest reasons why I love Jesus revealing Himself unto the disciples, as well as to the two men who traveled on the road to Emmaus, and unto upwards of five-hundred at one time, for He was investing in life, in growth, in maturity, in ministry beyond the cross and the grave. I am convinced it was necessary for Jesus to be present with His disciples and those who would be present with Him when He was on the mount of Olives, for He needed to bring them to the place of His ascension in order that they might know and understand how they should proceed upon and after His departure. Jesus spent forty days revealing Himself and shewing Himself alive until the time would come for Him to ascend into heaven and return to the right hand of His Father who was in heaven. I can’t help but see those forty days between the grave and the mountain as being a period of investment in the lives of those eleven men who had walked with Him for three and a half years. I can’t help but see those forty days between the grave and the mountain as being a wonderful and powerful time of investment and instruction, as it was necessary for the Lord to prepare them for how to respond after He departed from among them. We dare not miss the tremendous significance of those forty days, for it was those forty days which He used to prepare them for how to prepare themselves for the coming and the arrival of the promise of the Father.
Oh, how many men and women are willing to invest in the lives of others beyond the altar in order that they might be ready and prepared for the arrival of the Spirit within their lives? It was true that Jesus did indeed die upon the cross, and it was true that His body was taken down and removed from the cross and buried in a borrowed tomb, but it is also true that according to the Spirit Jesus was raised from death to life as He emerged victorious and triumphant over death, over hell and over the grave. IT is my persuasion that even those forty days between the grave and the mountain were necessary and part of the divine mission and mandate of Jesus the Christ, for the work wasn’t and hadn’t yet been completed. During those forty days between the grave and the mountain it was necessary for Jesus to demonstrate and reveal Himself as truly being alive and having been raised from the grave and from death to life in order that there might be absolutely no doubt within the hearts of His disciples and followers that He had indeed and had in fact risen from the grave and was alive. It was necessary during those forty days after His resurrection for Jesus to appear unto the disciples, as well as unto upwards of five hundred, for He needed to demonstrate that He was alive and had risen from the grave so as to solidify and sure up the faith of those who would remain upon the earth after His departure and return unto His Father who was in heaven. Had Jesus been raised from death to life and immediately ascended unto the right hand of the Father in heaven the disciples would have continued on living their lives in fear and terror and dread after their Master had been crucified. Jesus could have very easily died upon the cross at Calvary, and He could have very easily allowed Himself to be buried in the borrowed tomb, and He could have been raised from death to life within the tomb with it still being sealed, and ascending unto the right hand of His Father who was in heaven. The question I have to ask when I consider this reality is what that would and what that could have accomplished had Jesus ascended unto the right hand of the Father with the tomb still being sealed. Imagine what could and would have happened to the faith of the disciples had Jesus ascended to the right hand of His Father without demonstrating He was alive. What’s more, is that the stone could have been rolled away, the tomb could have been empty, and Jesus could have ascended to the right hand of His Father in heaven while leaving the tomb empty, the grave clothes still there within the tomb, and the stone rolled away, and yet not demonstrate that He was alive and had in fact risen from the grave.
Throughout His public ministry in Judaea, Samaria and the surrounding regions Jesus made mention of the fact that He would not only die, but also that He would rise from the grave. In fact, when the chief priests and religious community asked Him on what authority He drove out the money changers, and overturned their tables, and went about with a chord of whips, He declared unto them that if they destroy this temple, He would raise it up in three days. The apostle John records how those to whom He spoke had no clue that the temple He was referring to and speaking about was the temple of His body. If you carefully read the words of Jesus concerning His resurrection from the grave, you can’t help but get the strong sense that even His statements and declarations of His resurrection pointed to the tremendous reality that it was necessary for Him to demonstrate and reveal that He was alive and that He had in fact risen from the grave. Jesus couldn’t merely die upon the cross of Calvary atop Golgotha and rise from the grave and not demonstrate unto those who followed Him, and unto those who believed on Him that He had indeed and had in fact risen from the grave. What’s more, is that Matthew records that at the death of Jesus the tombs of many of the righteous saints had been opened, yet it wasn’t until His resurrection from the grave that the saints whose bodies had lied within those tombs would emerge from their graves and walk among the living once more. It’s worth noting that Jesus wasn’t the only one who walked around alive after the stone was rolled away, after the tomb had been emptied, and after He had risen from the grave. I absolutely love that it wasn’t just a resurrected Jesus that walked around Judaea after His resurrection, but it was Jesus together with various saints whose bodies had been lying in the tomb and grave. What’s more, is that there is every indication that at this time Lazarus was also still alive, thus addicting to the intrigue surrounding resurrection, for at one point Jesus, Lazarus, and all those saints who had their own graves opened, and themselves emerged from the grave were walking among the living once more. I still hold to the powerful truth that Jesus was only the beginning, and that what we read in Matthew’s gospel, and what we read in John’s gospel concerning Lazarus’ resurrection are additional demonstrations of the power of resurrection from death to life.
During those forty days after His resurrection Jesus powerfully and wonderfully demonstrated that He was indeed alive, and that He had in fact been raised from death to life. It was during those forty days that He invested in the future of the church which had yet to be born, but would be born and formed on the day of Pentecost. Not only could Jesus not leave them orphans, and leave them comfortless, but Jesus also couldn’t leave them without hope, without faith, without confidence to engage the world after His ascension and return unto the right hand of His Father in heaven. Had Jesus not taken those forty days to demonstrate that He was alive, the disciples may have had a message of the life and ministry of Jesus during those three and a half years, but their message would have ended with His death and burial in the tomb. Even if Jesus had been raised from death to life and emerged from the tomb there would have been no message had He not demonstrated and revealed Himself to have been raised from death to life and conquered death, hell and the grave. I am convinced that just as surely as Jesus spent and devoted forty days after His resurrection to invest in those who followed Him those three and a half years, it was also necessary for the apostle Paul to spend eighteen months in the city of Corinth investing in the lives of those who had already believed on the Lord and were baptized. It would have been very easy for the apostle Paul to leave after Crispus and his house believed on the Lord, and after many of the Corinthians, upon hearing believed and were baptized, yet I would dare say that for him to have done so would have meant that he could and perhaps would have left the work unfinished and incomplete. Oh, how many men and women have absolutely no issue with leaving the work unfinished and incomplete without investing any further time, effort or energy? How many men and women are willing to go only so far, and they then make the conscious and deliberate decision to leave others to fend for themselves and figure things out for themselves.
I am absolutely amazed at the appearing of Jesus at night by a vision, for the appearing of the Lord Jesus was intended to encourage the apostle Paul to continue speaking within the city, and to not give up or relent. The Lord promised the apostle Paul that His presence would be with Him, and that He had much people within the city—both of which are absolutely incredible promises given unto the apostle Paul. It is the second part of this two-fold promise that I find to be absolutely incredible, for it was as if the Lord was declaring unto the apostle that there was still a great work which needed to be accomplished. For the Lord to declare unto the apostle Paul that He still had much people within the city is a powerful statement that the apostle’s time was not yet up, and that he could not abandon the work that still needed to be accomplished within the city. For the Lord to declare that He had many people within the city wonderfully and powerful suggests that there was still a wonderful work the apostle Paul needed to do in Corinth, and that despite the opposition and blaspheming of the Jews, he could not leave them to themselves. I wholeheartedly believe the appearing of the Lord at night by a vision unto the apostle Paul was an emphatic declaration that not only were there still many within the city who needed to believe on the Lord and be baptized, but there was also the work of investment in the lives of all those who believed and were baptized. During those eighteen months there was in all reality a two-fold work that took place, for on the one hand you find men and women believing on the Lord and being baptized, and on the other hand you find all those who have believed and been baptized needing clear instruction on how they are to live and what they are to do in response to the decision they made. Oh, how many men and women stop short with salvation alone, and yet they spend absolutely no time thinking about and considering the process and role of sanctification which plays just as much as part and role within one’s life as salvation. I have heard it said before that if the Lord’s primary mission and focus was to save us alone, He would take us home and bring us unto Himself the moment we believed, the moment we were saved, and the moment we were baptized. The last time I checked there were no ascensions after decisions to believe on the Lord occurred, for men and women still remain on the earth after they believed on the Lord and were baptized.
If you continue reading the second chapter of this second epistle of Paul unto the Corinthian saints, you will find a tremendous amount of language that was written by the apostle—undoubtedly, and perhaps connected to the Lord’s appearance at night by vision unto the apostle while He was at Corinth. Consider if you will the words which the apostle Paul writes in verses fourteen through seventeen of this second chapter unto the church of God which was at Corinth—“Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the Saviour of His knowledge by us in every place. For we are unto God a sweet Saviour of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish: to the one we are the savour of death unto death; and to the other the savour of life unto life. And who is sufficient for these things? For we are not as many, which corrupt the word of God: but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ” (2 Corinthians 2:14-17). Please don’t miss or lose sight of the tremendous language that is found within this set of verses, for with these words the apostle Paul not only speaks of triumph, but the apostle also speaks of influence and impact we have around us. The apostle Paul emphatically declared that it is God who always causes us to triumph in Christt—and not only does He always cause us to triumph in Christ, but He also makes manifest the savour of His knowledge by us in every place. THE TRIUMPH AND AROMA OF THE SAINTS! Did you know that you were created and intended to be a testimony of triumph and a fragrant aroma within the earth among those you encounter and come in contact with each and every day? Did you know that your life was and is to be a powerful testimony of triumph in Christ, as the Lord your God always causes you to triumph in Christ. I am convinced that during those eighteen months the apostle Paul was in Corinth, this reality was powerfully and wonderfully demonstrated, for the apostle Paul continued faithfully preaching the gospel concerning Jesus the Christ unto the inhabitants of the city of Corinth.
THE SAVOUR OF HIS KNOWLEDGE! THE SAVOUR OF LIFE UNTO LIFE! I am firmly convinced that it was during those eighteen months when—not only was the apostle Paul himself a sweet savour of the knowledge of Christ among the Corinthians, but he also demonstrated unto them how to themselves be a savour of the knowledge of Christ. What’s more, is that I am convinced that during those eighteen months the Corinthians witnessed the apostle Paul being willing to remain in the city—despite the fact that the Jews opposed themselves and blasphemed. When I read the words which the Lord spoke unto Paul at night by a vision, and when I read of how the apostle Paul spent eighteen months in Corinth, and when I read the words which the apostle Paul wrote unto the Corinthians in this second chapter, I can’t help but be compelled to write that true investment in the lives of those before and around us not only requires a demonstration of us triumphing in all things in Christ, and not only exposure to the fragrant aroma that emanates from our lives, but also a demonstration unto others how to themselves triumph in Christ, and how to themselves be a savour of the knowledge of God within the earth. The question we must ask ourselves is whether or not we are demonstrating that our God always causes us to triumph in all things, and whether or not we are indeed and in fact a sweet savour of the knowledge of God within the earth. The apostle Paul spent eighteen months among the Corinthians as he not only chose to live among them and invest in them, but also demonstrate the triumph that is available in Christ, and the desperate need for us to be a fragrant aroma of Christ wherever we go. Do others see you triumphing? Do others seeing you in all things be more than a conqueror in Christ? Do others see you fighting the good fight of faith? Do others witness you being a fragrant aroma of Christ in the earth unto those you encounter and come in contact with? Are others attracted to the fragrant aroma of your life, or are they repelled and repulsed at the scent and aroma that emanates from your life? It is absolutely necessary and imperative that we read the words which the apostle Paul wrote unto the Corinthian congregation within this chapter, for the words which are presented unto us provide a powerful challenge unto us concerning our own lives and how we live among those we have been called to invest.
Do you have the testimony that your God always causes you to triumph in Christ? Do you have the testimony within your life that in all things you are more than a conqueror? I believe this was the tremendous power, weight and significance of the forty days which Jesus spent revealing and manifesting Himself unto His disciples, and various other individuals after His resurrection, for during that time He was demonstrating that even in death itself His Father caused Him to triumph. What’s more, is the fact that with the other graves being opened at His death, and the bodies of those saints which lie within those grave emerging at Jesus’ resurrection, this reality wasn’t merely demonstrated within the life of Jesus. Even more than this, after Jesus’ resurrection we not only find Jesus being able to triumph over death, but we also find Lazarus, as well as all those whose graves were opened triumphing over death themselves. How absolutely incredible this is, for it’s as if Christ invites us into His triumph and into His victory. It’s as if Christ invites us into the fullness of His resurrection, in order that we might experience the very same reality He experienced. Oh please don’t miss or lose sight of this wonderful reality, for it must needs be demonstrated and manifested within your life and within my life. You have been invited into the triumph of Christ—even over death and the grave—and you have been invited to demonstrate that triumph to all those you encounter on a day to day basis. Thanks be to God who always causes us to triumph in Christ, and oh that we would recognize and understand that it is only through Christ we triumph—it is only through His death our graves can be opened, and it is only in His resurrection that we ourselves can be resurrected.