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Summary: The Lord, speaking throught St. Paul, makes clear his wishes for mankind. God uses a firm "Yes" in reference to our salvation, and we respond with a faith-filled "Amen."

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Epiphany 7

II Corinthians 1:18-22

There was a NFL football game about 4 or 5 years ago that had a very controversial event happen during the game. Actually the game was just about to go into overtime, and you know before overtime there’s always another coin toss to see who gets the football first. And the man who called it while the coin was in the air was Jerome Bettis, the Pittsburg Steelers Rb. He called tails, the coin landed tails, but the referee had misheard him, and the ref thought he had said heads, and so the Steelers lost the coin toss. So poor Bettis is running off the field pleading, “I said tails! I said tails!” And right away the conspiracy theories began. The sports news stations were replaying the coin toss of all things. And there were some people who thought they heard Bettis say a faint “Heads” before he said “Tails.” I sure didn’t hear that. But these theorists were saying that Bettis had said both: “Heads-Tails” He was talking out of both sides of his mouth. He was being ambiguous.

There’s nothing ambiguous about our text today. There, St. Paul reminds us that there is no double-talk in the Church of God. Christ speaks with a clear Yes. And we believers respond with a clear Amen.

Part I

With the possible exception of the churches in Galatia, there was no single church that gave St. Paul fits as much as the Christian Church in Corinth. It seemed that there was always some mess in that church that Paul had to deal with. In fact, in this first chapter of II Corinthians, Paul is meeting one of those problems head-on.

Some of the church members in Corinth were spreading the rumor that Paul was an unreliable apostle. They said that you couldn’t really trust him. And as proof, they cited something that Paul had done recently: he had changed some travel plans! This is what they were getting worked up over! These troublemakers were saying, “well, Paul promised to visit us, and then he says he’s not visiting us, you just can’t trust this guy!” I guess we would compare their argument with the boxer Mike Tyson, who this past week said, “My fight is on, my fight is off, I just got a tattoo so maybe the fight’s on. Now the fight is off. Oh yes, now the fight is definitely on.” Now who these days trusts what Mike Tyson says? What these troublemakers were trying to say is that Paul was just as unreliable as Mike Tyson. “He talks out of both sides of his mouth! He’s ambiguous! You can’t trust anything Paul says!”

Now more serious than this just being an attack of Paul personally was that amounted to an attack on his message. Because the logic goes: if Paul was unreliable, than the Gospel that he preached was unreliable. If you can’t trust Paul with respect to something as mundane as his travel itinerary, how can you trust what he says about important matters like life and death, heaven and hell?

When Paul is attacked, he doesn’t become defensive. In the verses of our text, Paul goes on the offensive! He concentrates on Christ as his model of clarity and surety. The apostle calls Jesus God’s Yes-Man. Now when we use the word “Yes-Man,” we are talking about a weak-willed person who is trying to butter up his boss in order to climb the corporate ladder. Jesus Christ is a Yes-Man in a very different sense. Every promise that God makes to human beings, every promise has a certain “Yes” answer through Jesus. When talking about important matters like forgiveness of sins, salvation, and eternal life, God’s answer is not a wishy-washy “Yes, no, maybe, perhaps, I don’t know.” Instead, when God makes a promise, he knows only one word to attach to that promise: “Yes!” Listen again to how Paul puts that in the first verses of this reading, “but as surely as God is faithful, our message to you is not “Yes” and “No.” For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was preached among you by me and Silas and Timothy, was not “Yes” and “No,” but in him it has always been “Yes.” For no matter how many promises God has made, they are all “Yes” in Christ.”


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