2 CORINTHIANS 1: 18-22 [GAINING PERSPECTIVE Series]
INTEGRITY OF MOTIVE AND CONDUCT
Some of the trouble makers in the church discredited Paul by pointing to inconsistency and saying he was at the least insincere, and more likely two-faced, in his relationship with them. But nothing could be more illogical than to suspect the apostle of insincerity or vacillating. Paul’s entire being was dedicated to the service and proclamation of the One Who is totally and constantly truth, Who is the same yesterday, today and forever. God is the source of all stability. In Jesus and through the promises of God we too are stabilized and become stable (CIT).
I. THE FAITHFULNESS OF GOD, 18-19.
II. SOLIDIFIED IN CHRIST, 20.
III. ESTABLISH, ANOINTED AND SEALED BY GOD, 21-22.
Paul answers the charge against Him by referencing the faithfulness of His God in verse 18. “But as God is faithful, our word to you is not yes and no.”
Paul’s accusers had been saying he was unstable or untrustworthy because he seem to vacillate in his decision to come visit them. Therefore he was not to be believed. So Paul here says that if you cannot be certain about him, be certain about God. The source of stability for Paul and his ministry was God Himself, who is faithful. The message Paul preached was no less certain or faithful than God is. His preaching or doctrine was not inconsistent or contradictory. He did not preach one thing and then live another.
Paul transitioned quickly from his personal integrity to God’s integrity. Paul was much more concerned for the reputation of the gospel than his own. They might accuse him of breaking his word but when they charged that his preaching was not of God they went too far. He says whatever you think of him, be assured that because God is faithful so is Paul’s preaching.
By saying his “message was not yes and no” he is saying that it is worthy of confidence. Since God is true so the message is true. Paul says it is God’s faithfulness that makes the gospel true. It is His Word and it is forever unchangeably true. God is trustworthy, therefore His Word is trustworthy, it does not change or vacillate. Paul’s confidence in God’s word was one and the same with his confidence in God.
Verse 19 elaborates why God’s message, even through human agency, is faithful. “For the Son of God, Christ Jesus, who was preached among you by us–by me and Silvanus and Timothy–was (did not become) not yes and no, but is yes in Him” (in Him was and continues to be a reality).
At the heart of the message preached by Paul, Silas and Timothy was Christ Jesus. Not only was the preaching of the Son of God true, but when the Corinthians entered into their relationship with Christ, God proved trustworthy and continued to prove Himself true. The messengers did not sway back and forth on the message nor did Christ not sway in and out in His relationship with them. Timothy, Silas and Paul preached the Word of God for 18 months in Corinth on Paul’s second missionary journey. Their message in word and their message in life through much opposition and obstacles that would have hindered natural man prove the message and messengers faithfulness.
God word resounds with yes for there is no contradiction in Christ nor in His teaching. The Christ who their preaching had revealed or who had been experienced by them did not prove Himself unsatisfying or uncertain “but yes in Him,” that is He is true to His truth. In Him- in Christ is trustworthy truth. Christ proved Himself to be all that He was affirmed to be.
Yes, His love for us is [gegonen, perfect tense] always constant; it is not off and on. Whatever God promises [7:1; Rom. 9:4; 15:8], He fulfills. He does not simply love us when we are good, and not love us when we are bad; Jesus loves us all the time. His forgiveness is always yes. In Him, yes, we can always find forgiveness. He is always willing to extend the rope that would haul us up out of the miry clay. It has been tested uncountable times down through the centuries and has proven itself sufficient to lift us up to new life no matter how great our debt of sin is.
II. SOLIDIFIED IN CHRIST (20).
Verse 20 speaks of God’s certainties in Christ and God’s answers to man in Christ. “for as many as are the promises of God, in Him they are yes: therefore also through Him is our Amen to the glory of God through us.
“Are yes in Him” means that God’s many promises found their fulfillment in Christ. All of God’s promises of what the Messiah would be and do are fulfilled in Christ. Jesus was completely faithful in His ministry. He never sinned (1 Peter 3:18); He faithfully died for us (Hebrews 2:9); and now He faithfully intercedes for us (Romans 8:34; Hebrews 4:14,15).
Not only are God’s promises fulfilled in Christ, but God’s promises are offered in Christ. It is through Christ that we have access and obtain the promises of God. If we are in Christ we too have access to these sanctification promises. Christ is God’s greatest promise and by faith becomes everything each man needs, for in Him are hidden all the treasures of God.
The promises in God’s Word are like KEYS THAT UNLOCK the captive’s doors of difficulty, despair, and doubt. Living in Christ is the key to walking out those doors. A scene from Pilgrim’s Progress illustrates the point.
The author John Bunyan portrays Christian, the main character in his allegory, as temporarily at a standstill on his journey to heaven. He finds himself locked in a dungeon beneath doubting Castle. Then one morning Christian say in amazement, “What a fool am I, to lie in a stinking dungeon, when I may as well walk with liberty! I have a key in my bosom called Promise, that will, I am persuaded, open any lock in doubting Castle.” To which Hopeful, his traveling companion, exclaims, “That is good news, good brother; pluck it out of your bosom and try!”
So Christian pulls out the key and tries it in the dungeon door. The bolt opens with ease, and Christian and Hopeful hurry out. They then proceed to the outside door. That bolt opens then the path leads into the castle yard, and the key opens it too. One last barrier stands between them and freedom– an iron gate. At first the lock resists. Christian keeps working the key of promise, and finally the heavy gate swings open.
Do you find yourself locked in Doubting Castle, held prisoner by despair? Choose to trust one of God’s promises and act upon it without delay. [Some key promises: Isaiah 40:31, Deuteronomy 33:27, 1 Corinthians 10:13, John 14:27.] The keys of God’s promises can unlock the door of any difficulty.
Notice that simple word amen. Amen is a Christian expression of confidence in the faithfulness of God and the certainty of God’s promises (Jn. 3:33). The word "amen" is a most remarkable word. It is trans¬literated directly from the Hebrew into New Testament Greek, then into Latin, English and many other languages so that it is practically a universal word. It has been called the best-known word in human speech.
The word is directly related-in fact, almost identical-to the Hebrew word for "believe" (aman), or "faithful." It came to mean "sure" or "truly," an expression of absolute trust and confidence. It has the idea of firmness and reliability. When one believes God, he indicates his faith by an "amen." When God makes a promise, the believer's response is "amen"-"so it will be!" “This is what is to be.” In the New Testament it is often translated "verily" or "truly." When we pray according to His Word and His will, we know God will answer, so we close with an "amen."
The word is even a title of Christ Himself. The last of His letters to the seven churches begins with a remarkable salutation by the glorified Lord: "These things saith the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness...” (Rev¬elation 3:14). We can be certain that His Word is always faithful and true because Christ is God’s eternal Amen to us.
As our text reminds us, every promise of God in Christ is "yea and amen," as strong an affirmation of truth as can be expressed in biblical language. It is, therefore, profoundly meaningful that the entire Bible closes with an "amen." "The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen" (Revelation 22:21), assuring everyone who reads these words that the whole Book is absolutely true and trustworthy. Amen! [HMM.]
The promises of God are amen in Christ because He is the one who makes us steadfast to the glory of God. Because of receiving God’s promise we become faithful like Christ. He has grasped us and we stay firm in Him because of His immovable foundation.
The promises of God are proved true when we receive them through Christ and God gets glory. The sentence closes with through us. How illogical it was in finding Christ so true to suspect the trustworthiness of the Apostle who revealed the promises to them.
III. ESTABLISHED, ANOINTED AND SEALED BY GOD (21-22).
Next Paul mentions three blessings God gives to believers. Verse 21 states two gifts God gives when we become be¬lievers. “Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and anointed us is God.
God is The One making us steadfast and sincere. Thus Paul takes the matter and places it far above that of mere personal grievance. He points out that God is doing the same thing in him that He is doing them. It would make sense that the one must be established who established them in Christ. They therefore should have confidence in him, for God is establishing them both and not in a static manner but in a progressive manner. Being placed into Christ is Being established into Christ is a dynamic progressive work of grace in their lives. This true communion [or abiding] with a faithful God must make faith-keeping men. [The certainties of God’s “yes” and our “Amen” will influence our character.] That is why we are commanded to be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord (1 Cor. 15: 58).
The only way we grow near and nearer our God is by steadfastly living in Christ. To change our feeble, vacillating, fluctuating will and treacherous ways and wandering spirits and get our natures established, immovable, we must constantly let the strong Son of God live in us and find His enabling for steadfastness, obedience and submission. The psalmist said “I have set the Lord before me always because He is my right hand, I should not be moved.”
Not only is God establishing us in Christ, God also anointed us. The divine name Christ means Anointed One (Isa. 61:1f) and it is with His own anointing that He anoints those that abide in Him. Kings, prophets and priests were anointed by oil when inaugurated into their offices. To anoint with the Holy Spirit (1 Jn. 2:20) [here], means to qualify us by divine empowering to carry out our duties.
Notice it is God who has anointed us in Christ. Not just ministers but every man and woman who has a living grasp of the living Christ receives this anointing which enables them to take their different gifts and different ministries and carry them out for the glory of God. As we take up our ministry, Christ’s mission will become our mission.
Thus established and anointed by God we abide in Christ. As we abide in Christ we become like Him, marked by His gentleness, by a tremendous tenacity of will, a determined focus of purpose, and a constancy of obedience even in the face of temptations to sway. As articles on deck are lashed to firm moorings, we by abiding in Christ hold fast to His eternal moorings no matter what the surging tumultuous waves of life throw at us.
Verse 22 gives a legal guarantee of permanence of God’s Spirit to the saved. “Who also sealed us and gave us the Spirit in our hearts as a pledge (deposit guarantee).
The Christian has been sealed by God. A royal seal was a means to prevent opening, of unlawful tampering with the contents (Dan 6:17). It was placed their as a signature (1 Kings 21:18) and not only gave the document or article security but proves that it was not a forgery. This seal indicates ownership, proves to be genuine and preserves the contents.
The Holy Spirit is the seal of God upon believers. The indwelling of the Spirit marks us as belonging to God (Rev 7:2; 2 Tim. 2:19). The seal of the Holy Spirit authenticates us to ourselves and to others that we are genuine believers and this seal effectively secures us from apostasy and perdition (Eph. 1:3; 4:30). God has set His seal upon those who are His; they are known to Him and in Him they are secure for all eternity. This sealed security is by nothing less that with the Holy Spirit of Promise (Eph. 1:13).
The sealing of the Holy Spirit is a fresh stamping of the divine character upon human personality. It is an indelible communication to the believer of the image of God that was marred through the fall. As Paul has insisted the one who carries the transformational seal of the Spirit of Truth is not faithless or insincere.
The Holy Spirit is not only our seal but our pledge, our deposit, or our guarantee, that the complete blessing or inheritance will be paid in full. God has given us His Spirit as a certain security that He will keep the remainder of His promises to us. We have God’s pledge of our full and final salvation.
Romans 8:23 speaks of “the first fruit of the Spirit” that the Christian already possesses which promises the complete harvest which believers are destined ultimately to enjoy. The present gift of the Spirit is only a small fraction of our future endowment. The Spirit is the down payment which guarantees the final possession in its full “inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away” reserved in heaven for you who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time (1 Pet.1:4 & 5).
A RESTAURANT that had been closed for a while reopened. It had been freshly painted in bright, cheerful color-landscaped to include an inviting pathway to the door. The old sign had been replaced, New Ownership, Same Name, All New Menu."
This message caused me to reflect on the time when I became a Christian. I was still known by the same name, but I was changed. I was no longer the old me trapped in the bondage of sin but a "new creation” in Christ. I had a new menu of what I could offer others. I became a more cheerful person because I had the joy of the Lord in my heart, and I tried to be a door of invitation to Christ.
The Fruit of the Spirit is the evidence of the deposit that guarantees that we possess the promise of Life Eternal. Are you experiencing, exhibiting this fruit of the Spirit recorded in Galations 5:21-22? Do you experience and produce the Spirit’s fruit? If you have the Spirit, abide in Christ and God will establish you and transform you as you walk in His will and way.
All who have been saved by grace through faith have also experienced the anointing, sealing and guarantee of the Holy Spirit. The anointing is for service, the sealing is for safe keeping and protection, the down payment is the authentic guarantee of the full inheritance of glory yet to be revealed. As such a Christian will not be fickle or unstable but will be established in Christ Jesus to minister in His name for His glory.
May we Pray: Loving Lord, we thank You for redeeming us and making us Your own children, for making us new creations and assuring us that we belong to You through the love of Jesus Christ. Thank You for the great comfort and power of Your Holy Spirit who gives us life is and is Your down payment of the benefits of our eternal life in God's presence. Having received so much with so much more to come when Christ returns, may we share with others the promises and way of salvation in Jesus Christ. Amen.