The Grace of God (8:1-8) – Sovereign Grace
The Grace of Christ (8:9-15) – Sufficient Grace
The Grace of Christian Love (8:16-24)
Paul begins this chapter with the slightly impersonal:
Grace of God (vs 1 to 8)
A Grace Sovereign over the trials of life
A Grace which orders and ordains the experiences of life including trials and testings and sufferings
This is transforming Grace
This is sovereign Grace
This Grace transforms:
affliction → joy
poverty → riches
Grace sufficient to transform:
The battle of a shepherd against a giant and transform it by His Power
The barrenness of Hannah's womb into the birthplace of Israel's deliverer and judge
Israel's wandering in the wilderness into Gods leading to the promised land (Deut 8:2), measured to 40 years and achieving Gods sovereign purpose in discipline.
The Grace of Christ (8:9-15) – Sufficient Grace
Personal and sufficient Grace in the experiences of trial.
'The Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ'
Here is a Grace which is:
At a simple level this is a practical example of giving to the Corinthians
Remember that all that you have received, you received because you were gifted it, you received because Christ gave.
Christ was inestimably rich and yet became poor.
Who would have thought that the one who claimed the cattle on the thousand hills would have borrowed a colt to ride into Jerusalem.
The one who possessed the heavens and the earth would have had to borrow a penny to answer His enemies.
The one co-equal with God, who shared the Glory of God would have been hung upon a tree between heaven and earth.
You have been brought into the economy of grace, therefore continue this economy.
All service is in essence giving
All Christian service is logical and reasonable (Romans 12:1ff) – I give in response to what I have been given.
If I never serve, perhaps I have never been touched by how much I have received!
As an example, verse 8 doesn't quite fit the chapter.
Christ gave that we might be enriched, although He did not enrich us with that which He gave!
Christ was rich and became poor to give:
riches → poverty → giving
The Macedonians had to give out of their deep poverty (v2)
Christ enriched from a place of poverty – The Corinthians are exhorted to give from their wealth (8:11,14).
Perhaps there is more here than just an example.
There are features unique to Christ.
This is in a sense a unique pattern, whilst it is presented in view of points of similarity!
'for ye know' : ginosko – by experience?
'that ye through His poverty might be rich'
This is something that the Corinthians have already experienced and already know.
Even if there may be a reluctance to give on their part this is a Grace already experienced.
Surely Christs saving Grace and the blessings already flowing there from?
Theirs by experience already.
Christ gave and gave until He reached 'poverty' (v9) – 'πτωχεία' – beggary
There was nothing left except Christ
With what did Christ enrich us then if all His riches had been given?
What did Christ possess to enrich us with?
All He had was Himself .
All I need is Himself.
What I need more than anything else is Christ
That is what I lost at Eden – Christ
This is the Grace of the Lord Jesus Christ which I “know” and which has made me rich!
In the fire and the flame – Christ was there
As the Captain of the Host of the Lord – Christ was there
In the sorrow of the widows home
At the grave of a brother lost
By the coffin of a widows only son
In the storm tossed boat
By the altar of a son ready to be slain on Moriah
In the depths of a watery grave, the belly of hell itself
Christ is there
It is Christ and nothing less than Christ and nothing other than Christ that I need, to meet my need.
This is the Grace that the Corinthians know
It is this Grace – the Grace of Christ and who He is that met their need in Salvation and continues to meet my need as a believer.
Not what Christ possesses that meets my need but rather possessing Christ meets my need.
When hunger and thirst grip a nation
When waters are bitter at Marah
When the furnace is heated 7 X more
When lions surround
When waters engulf and when I sink into teh deep dark depths of oblivion
When giants stand tall in the valley
When foes oppose (2 Sam 5)
When the Philistines spread themselves in the valley of Rephaim and there is but a rustling on the top of the Mulberry trees
Then says David in the valley
Then declares Elijah in the famine
Then weeps Mary and Martha
Then prays Daniel in the lions den
Then declares the widow of Nain in her sorrow and grief
Then says Jonah in the depths of the Ocean
Then says Samson in Dagons temple
Then says Philip by the sea of Tiberias
Then says Paul in Caesars prison cell
His Grace is Sufficient
'notwithstanding the Lord stood with me.' 2 Tim 4:17
Here in Christ is the experience of Grace
Here is the experience of Christ
This is more than raw power, raw ability, pure purpose, cold sovereignity, rigid rules, spiritual or natural laws.
Gods provision for us is in Christ:
Christ is sufficient!
God has provided for us:
Manna in the wilderness – 2 Corinthians 8:15
Water from the rock – 1 Corinthian 10:4
Grace meets our need perfectly and precisely (8:15)
There is neither GREED 'had nothing over'
Nor is there NEED 'had no lack'
This verse is undoubtedly primarily an example of the giving which proceeds from Grace.
This verse primarily reminds the Corinthians that all they have, they have received by the giving of another.
That Christian giving is therefore reasonable and logical
Christian giving, founded on the example of Christ is thus completely reasonable and logical.
But there is more than an example in the Grace of Christ
More than a positive example of Grace
We have also in this verse an exhortation which removes the legitimacy of the most common reasons for not serving:
I don't possess the equipment
I don't have the experience
I lack the education
Christ serves not on the foundation of all of the resources which He brings to His service, but on the foundation of a willing mind surrendered.
What Christ brought to His service was in essence the sacrifice of a 'will surrendered' :
The service of Christ depended upon this
At times deliberately not exercising what may well have been legitimate Divine ability
Christ refused to turn stones into bread to meet His own need
Christ did not summon 12 legions of angels (Matt 26:53)
Christ did not draw on the sword of Peter to establish His Kingdom.
One of the greatest hindrances to Christian service / spiritual service, is the sense that / excuse that there is some THING I lack which would be essential to my effective service for the Lord.
Moses – Exodus 4:10 “O my Lord I am not eloquent neither heretofore, I am slow of speech and of a slow tongue.” - was this an accurate assessment or not? He certainly was learned in all the wisdom of Egypt! Maybe he underestimates his own gifts and ability? History seems to indicate that he did pretty well at the tasks set for him by the Lord! He appears to have spoken well to Israel and to have held his own with Pharaoh.
Gideon – Judges 6:15 “my family is poor in Manasseh and I am the least in my Fathers house”
John 6:9 “what are they among so many”
The resources for effective Christian service do not lie in a thing possessed but in a will surrendered to the Lord.
The resources lie in Christ.
The secret of service lies not in our attributes but in our attitude!
The corollary of this is adequately illustrated by the multitude of the unsuitable willingly surrendered to the inexhaustible to perform the will of the omnipotent.
David with a will surrendered proved a adequate match for Goliath
The widows handful of meal surrendered to an onipotent God was enough to sustain right through the famine conditions.
12 men took on the world as their mission field and triumphed
Elijah faced > 1000 false prophets on Carmel and came down victorious.
Gideon as preparation for beating the the Midianites, had his armies removed:
1 man against almost a thousand – Elijah
1 man against a city – Lot
1 man against an empire – Moses
1 man against a world – Noah
with God they are enough
To Moses and his slow speech – let a redeemer be a redeemer – perform the doing of it!
To Gideon and his inferiority – let a judge be a judge - perform the doing of it!
To Jonah and his missionary call – let an evangelist be an evangelist - perform the doing of it!
To Saul and call to become King – let a King be a King - perform the doing of it!
To the disciples with a hungry crowd and an all sufficient Christ - perform the doing of it!
The question is not are you sufficient?
The question is – are you willing?