2Corinthians 5 — To a Church in Crisis, With Love

Text: 2Corinthians 5

With love, even God’s own divine love in our hearts, Paul and I speak to you from 2Corinthians 5 today. We want you to join us in being the Amen to God’s promises of reconciliation, of salvation, and of the infilling of the Holy Spirit! Yes! Truth! He has done it in me! You will say the same thing, when you are filled!

If I were to give this a title, it would be, “Compelled by the Love of Christ.” When we cried out for the Lord to change our hearts, He filled us with His Spirit and His divine love, the very love of God the Father and God the Son. And His love compels us (we are glad prisoners of it), in all that we do!

We say these things to you so that you will understand what happens when you obey Jesus’ command to be filled with the Holy Spirit. Then, you will become a prisoner of the divine love of God, just as He has done with us!

Verses 1-3 —

Paul continues his testimony of ministry in the Spirit from 2Corinthians 4:18, in which Paul said we who are filled with the Spirit do not look at the temporal, but the eternal. 

Now he explains why — it is because we know that if the earthly tent which is our house is torn down (demolished), we have a building from God not made with hands, eternal in the heavens! Jesus Christ has gone to prepare a place for us —

John 14:2 “In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. 3 “If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.”

For indeed in this house we groan (sigh inwardly), because we long (intensely crave) to be clothed with our dwelling from heaven (our spiritual, eternal bodies). We do not want to be found spiritually naked, but clothed with the body that is eternal. Do you know, without a doubt? Do you long for that day when you are clothed with Him? Is He in you, even now?

Verses 4-5 — 

For indeed, while we are in this tent, we sigh inwardly, being burdened (troubled), because we do not want to be unclothed and in our decaying body, but clothed with our eternal body! Then the mortal will be swallowed up (gulped down entirely) by life — eternal life! Do I hear a “Hallelujah!” out there?

God has prepared us for this very purpose, that is, that we would ultimately be clothed with our spiritual body, an eternal body, when our natural bodies die. For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality! The change will be in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye (1Corinthians 15:52-53)! 

And He gave to us the Spirit as a pledge, a foretaste of glory divine! Oh, this wonderful infilling is just the appetizer, beloved! How kind and merciful is our God, to change us in such a wonderful way!

Verses 6-8 —

Because we have this foretaste, the fullness of the Holy Spirit, we are always of good courage (confident). We know that, while we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord. We are not yet present with Him, in our spiritual bodies, in heaven. but we know we will be!

Paul breaks away in Verse 7 to say why we are of good courage (again, confident). It is because we walk by faith, not by sight! We believe! And we know He has filled us! There is no longer any doubt. To walk by faith is to walk with our eyes on      our heavenly Father, our Lord, and the coming glory!  We do not look at temporal things. They will pass. Persecution is a temporary, light affliction. We press on toward the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:14)! We look at the eternal things!

Now, Paul continues on “at home in the body and absent from the Lord.” Paul says, We are of good courage (again, confident), “I say,” Paul says, for emphasis! There is no wavering, no questioning, we know!

Because we are completely confident, we would rather be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord, than be home in the body and absent from Him! So, when we die, beloved, we go directly to the Lord! Glory to God!

Paul writes to the church at Philippi —

Philippians 1:21 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain (that is, the prize). 

22 But if I am to live on in the flesh, this will mean fruitful labor for me; and I do not know which to choose. 23 But I am hard-pressed from both directions, having the desire to depart and be with Christ, for that is very much better . . .

Verses 9-10 —

Therefore, our ambition is always to be fully pleasing to Him, whether we are with Him in heaven, or absent from Him and still walking about on the earth. Why? First, because we love Him with His love. We live to please Him, and because He has filled us with His Spirit, we please Him greatly!!

But also, we will all be held accountable, and Paul speaks this particularly to the believers at Corinth, whose motives and actions have shown that they are infants in Christ. Each will receive reward or rebuke, according to his deeds while he was in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.

The commentator for the Expositors Bible Commentary rightly says that some believers may “suffer loss” (1Corinthians 3:15) by forfeiting Christ’s praise or losing a reward that might have been theirs, had they obeyed. 

But the eternal destiny of some of the believers in Corinth hangs in the balance. The man who wrote this commentary believes, “once saved, always saved.” But I must disagree, because the Bible is quite clear that though no one will snatch you from God’s open hand, you can leave Him! How?

Jesus Christ Himself states that a believer may lose his salvation, if he continues to sin. Addressing His disciples (who are believers), the multitudes of Jews who have come to listen to Him, and the scribes and Pharisees who continually persecute Him, Jesus says —

Matthew 5:29 “If your right eye makes you stumble, tear it out and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. 30 “If your right hand makes you stumble, cut it off and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to go into hell.”

And He also says to Sardis, the church with soiled garments (sinning) that it is possible for your name to be erased from the book of life —

Revelation 3:5 “‘He who overcomes will thus be clothed in white garments; and I will not erase (blot out, wipe away) his name from the book of life, and I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.’”

Verse 11 —

We persuade (convince) men that they are sinners in need of a Savior, and that they must believe into Jesus Christ in order to receive forgiveness for their past sins and be reconciled to God. And we persuade believers that they must be filled with the Holy Spirit, just according to Jesus Christ’s command. 

Why?  Because we know (understand) the fear of the Lord, that is, the terror of Him, His response if we reject His Son or are found with soiled clothing when we stand before Him. But we are made manifest to God — we appear before Him even now. Because of His work in our hearts, we stand before Him. 

And Paul hopes (expects, is confident) that Timothy and him are shown to the consciences of the believers at Corinth, that they are doing the work of the Lord, and speaking the words of the Lord. 

The believers at Corinth have questioned Paul and Timothy’s credentials because they do not like their exhortations, and because they are listening to “super apostles,” who teach falsely. 

In saying that he expects that the Corinthian church sees the truth, Paul is prodding them to examine their consciences. Do they not see that they are falsely judging him?

Verse 12 —

For none of us who are Spirit-filled commend ourselves to others. We are already commended by God. But we give those to whom we minister an opportunity to be proud of us (to rejoice and to boast in us). 

The false teachers, whom Paul later calls “super-apostles,” and even some of the believers at Corinth, take pride in outward appearances. But they do not consider and evaluate the poverty-stricken condition of their own hearts. 

And the believers at Corinth are prideful about these “super-apostles” that are outwardly dignified and seem wise, and are eloquent speakers. But they do not discern the hearts of those super-apostles that they boast about. And as we have seen throughout 1Corinthians, some in the Corinthian church boast about themselves!

So Paul corrects them, for they should be boasting about Timothy and him! The believers at Corinth have a right to boast about them, because they are truly sent from the Lord to the Corinthians, and their hearts are for the Corinthians, not for personal gain or notoriety. It is the same for all of us who are Spirit-filled!

Verses 13-14 —

Some say we are insane — beside ourselves — because of what we speak! But we say what we say for God. We speak for Him. If we are of sound mind (which we are!), it is for your sakes, O church, so you may know the truth!

For we are compelled and held captive, by the love of Christ. It is not love for Christ, but His divine love, in us! 

His love compels us to go forth with His gospel. Why? We are sure that Christ died for us, and for all mankind. In that way, we have come to a “conclusion” (a judgment). What is the judgment?

If Christ died for all, so they may have eternal life, then all are spiritually dead until they come to Him! All stand condemned, because the Father sent His Son! Had it not been necessary, He would not have done it. I stood condemned, until I believed into Christ and was forgiven and reconciled to God!

Verse 15 — 

And Christ died for all, so that all who turn to Him and believe will live. He died for all, so that they are forgiven, and reconciled to God. 

But they must no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf. There is no “might” in the original Greek. It is not “might live,” it is “live!” There is no question about it, when you are filled with His Spirit!

That is why, when Christ was glorified, He poured out the Holy Spirit for all who would stay and wait to be filled with the Spirit! Those who obey His command to stay and wait  will die to their own self-interest (the sin nature) in a moment of time, and they will live life as God has it, while still on the earth and in heaven, serving and adoring and proclaiming Him who died and rose on their behalf! 

Verse 16 — 

Therefore, from now on, we (and the Corinthian believers) should recognize and judge no one according to the flesh. We are to judge no one according to outward appearances. We are to judge no one according to great oratorical skills or outward appearances, or words that tickle our ears. 

We have known Christ according to the flesh — perhaps thinking of Him as a great philosopher or a wise man or just a good man. But we do not know Him that way any longer! 

When He fully indwells us, we no longer think He is real — we know He is real! We know that He is the Christ, the Son of God and Savior of the world, and the One who cleaned us up on the inside! I’m dancing!

The believers at Corinth should not judge anyone by outward appearances or great oratory, belittling leaders who do not meet their “standards.” Do you, do such things, beloved?

Verse 17 —

So, are you a new creature? Has the old sin nature gone and the new divine nature come? Then you are “in Christ.” Then you are new!

Some say that you are “in Christ” the moment you are saved. They reason, Well, I’m saved. I must therefore be “in Christ.” 

But that was not my experience when I was yet an infant in Christ, nor is it what I see from infants in Christ in Corinth or in today’s church. The old Sue remained and was still in charge. My sin nature was alive and well. But I became new when I was filled with the Spirit, and so I conclude that Paul equates “in Christ” with being entirely sanctified, filled with the Holy Spirit.

The Word of God confirms that to be “in Christ” means Christ and the Father are literally dwelling in you as He promised in John 14:23. Then the old things (the sin nature and its fruit) have died — the sin nature has been crucified (Galatians 5:24). 

Behold! See! All things have become new! When you are filled, you become a partaker of a new nature — the divine nature of God (2Peter 1:4)!

Believing into Christ surely makes you a child of God. But your heart is not changed, you are not a partaker of the divine nature, until you are filled with the Holy Spirit. Then your sin nature dies, and you become NEW! All glory to Him who does it!

Verses 18-19 —

Now these things — becoming a new creature, dying to sin — are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ. And we who are filled have been given the ministry of reconciliation. 

What is this ministry of reconciliation? Namely, that God was, in Christ, reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their past sins against them, but forgiving their past sins.

And so, He has committed to us (placed in us who are filled with His Spirit) the word of reconciliation. What is the word of reconciliation that we announce? We proclaim that if you will believe into Jesus Christ, you will be reconciled to God, and your past sins will be forgiven. But that’s not all!

We proclaim “the rest of the story,” as radio host Paul Harvey used to say. We proclaim that after salvation, Jesus Christ commands you to be filled with the Spirit so your sin nature is crucified and you become His witness here!

Verses 20-21 — 

We are ambassadors for Christ, announcing the terms of the kingdom we represent. God makes an appeal through us, to a lost and dying world. Amen!

But brace yourself, O believer. Paul now begs the church at Corinth, on behalf to Christ — be reconciled to God! Remember, he is writing to the believers at Corinth, not to the lost.

What? Didn’t the believers at Corinth come to faith? Yes, through Paul’s ministry! But now, some of them are far from God. They have turned to false teachers. They are in danger of losing their salvation. Their spiritual survival is in jeopardy, unless they will finally heed His words!

At the end of 2Corinthians, Paul beseeches them —

2Corinthians 13:5   Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you — unless indeed you fail the test?

He reminds them that He who had no sin became sin (that is, He took upon Himself the sin of the world) on our behalf , so that they become the righteousness of God in Christ.  

Wait a minute, Pastor Sue. Doesn’t the Bible say, “might become?” We have a choice and don’t have to become the righteousness of God in Christ, right? “Might” is not in the original Greek, beloved. 

But some will say, you are boasting or lying if you say you have become the righteousness of God in Christ! But I will say that we are commanded by Christ to stay and wait and be filled with the Holy Spirit. Then we become the righteousness of God because His righteousness is literally in us. We boast in Christ —

Galatians 6:14 But may it never be that I would boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.

We are filled with Him! We are filled with His righteousness! Then, we have become the embodiment of the righteousness of God — the expression of it, to this world. We become His witnesses here. It is His work, and His righteousness!

Paul has exhorted the believers at Corinth to be reconciled to God. In the next chapter, he will warn them not to receive the grace of God in vain (empty-handed) when they stand before Him. He will exhort them that now is the day of salvation! Stay tuned!

Lord Jesus, may your church have ears to hear, that they might know what it is to be compelled by your love, to no longer fear death, and to have a new, changed heart that is filled with Your righteousness! Amen.  

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TWO SONGS

[SW350] 10/27/2018 message notes by 

Pastor Susan J. Wynn ©2018

“Two Songs”

Texts: Isaiah 5, Jeremiah 12, etc.

I will sing a joyous song of the restoration of the vineyard of the Lord! But first, I must sing a song of ruin, a call to repentance, because God’s people are rebelling against Him and must repent in order to be restored.

Isaiah 5:1-7, 13

The Lord, who is Isaiah’s and my Beloved, planted a vineyard. The vineyard is God’s people, then and now — those who have believed into Jesus, and Jews who do not yet believe in Him today. 

He established His vineyard on a fertile hill (5:1), prime farmland. He tilled it, removed the stones, and planted it with a grapevine, so it would produce a bright red grape, the most desirable and prized grape. He made sure that there was nothing to impede its growth and production.

He built a tower in the middle of it, where a watchman was posted (5:2). He hewed out a winepress in it. He provided everything needed for a productive vineyard.

Then He expected it to produce good grapes, because He is good and therefore it should have been good. But it produced only worthless ones (literally, “poisonous berries”). 

The Lord speaks (5:3-4). And now, My people, judge between Me and My vineyard. What more could I have done for My vineyard? I did all that was needed in order for it to produce good grapes. Why, then did it produce poisonous berries instead? It certainly was not His fault. 

But the fault lies with His people, who have rebelled against Him. Do you see that when you sin, you rebel against Him, personally? Rebellion always leads to ruin. I know it firsthand, from my own rebellion and my own ruin. But He gave me a song of restoration, when I repented!

Therefore, the Lord tells His people what He is going to do (5:5). He will judge His vineyard. He will assist in its destruction. He says, I will remove its hedge and break down its wall (protection), so it can be invaded. Its ground will be trampled by its invaders. 

Oh, beloved! I was a rebellious one who was invaded, whose ground was trampled. It was the best thing that ever happened to me, because it led me to repent!

We know from history that the Lord opened the door for the king of Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar, to destroy His vineyard, in an invasion of Judah and Jerusalem that started in 605 BC and ended in 597 BC.  Isaiah prophesied the invasion during his ministry, before he was murdered in 681 BC by the Jews who opposed him.

The Lord will lay waste (make desolate) His people (5:6). They will not be pruned, or hoed. He will not tend to His people. Briars and thorns will grow up in His abandoned vineyard. They will prick and wound His people. He will command the clouds not to rain, so His people dry up.

For the vineyard of the Lord of hosts is the house of Israel (and all of God’s people), and the men of Judah the planting in which He took delight (5:7). He planted them for His pleasure and enjoyment!

Why will He judge them? Because they were His planting, He expected them to do justice (judge rightly) just as He does. But behold (a loud call to look and see), He saw them produce only bloodshed (oppression). He expected them to be righteous just as He is, but behold, they produced cries of distress (shrieks) when they abandoned Him and went after false gods. And the shrieks of their children were heard, as they were burned as sacrifices to satisfy those gods. 

Do you see that when you rebel, you abandon Him? Do you see that He abandons you so you will cry out for Him to return? 

He says, My people go into exile (separation from My presence) for their lack of knowledge (5:13). As it is among so many of His people today, they entirely lacked holy, intimate knowledge of Him. This is a lament.

How did this come about? Why, when He expected His people to produce good fruit, did they produce poisonous fruit? 

Jeremiah 12:10, 21

He speaks through Jeremiah, saying, Many shepherds (false ones) have ruined My vineyard. They have trampled down My field. They have made it a desolate wilderness (12:10).

In the days of Jeremiah, His people were invaded and trampled by Nebuchadnezzar because of their stupid and foolish shepherds (Jeremiah 10:21, Zechariah 11:15). How did these false shepherds bring about such a thing?

They taught falsely, and prophesied falsely (Jeremiah 5:31). They said, “Peace, peace,” when there was no peace between the Lord and His people (Jeremiah 6:14). They did not exhort His people to stop sinning. They did not call them to repent. It is the same today.

The Lord laments, through Jeremiah —

Jeremiah 5:31 The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests rule on their own authority; and My people love it so! But what will you do at the end of it?

The Lord did not send them, but they spoke; He did not speak to them, but they prophesied (Jeremiah 23:21). It is the same today.

Woe to such shepherds, who are destroying and scattering His people, so He will punish them, and those who love the words of corrupt prophets and priests (Jeremiah 23:1-2. 5:31).

Isaiah 27:2-8

The Lord paints a bleak picture, through Isaiah and Jeremiah! But there will come a time of restoration, says the Lord! And now I will sing of His restoration!

In that day, after 70 years of exile in Babylon have passed (Daniel 9:2, Jeremiah 25:11), He will restore His people. You who are in exile, He will restore you!

And when He restores His people, He will sing (Zephaniah 3:17), and His prophets will sing! On that day, they will sing of a vineyard that produces wine! 

On that day, He will again be its keeper (Isaiah 27:3). He will continually water it, so it will not be damaged (it will not lack)! Oh, beloved, He will fill you with His living water, an endless source of eternal life (John 7:37-39)! He will give you His divine nature, and you will no longer rebel against Him —

Ezekiel 36:25 “Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. 26 “Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 “I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances.”

He will cause His people to take root, blossom, and sprout (27:4). They will produce what He expects! Then they will fill the whole world with fruit — His fruit!

But His people must repent —

The Lord says, in Isaiah 27:5, Let him rely on My protection (lay hold of My strength). He says, Make peace with Me! Make peace with Me! When He speaks twice like that, He means soon! O believer, if He commands me to tell you to make peace with Him, then you are not presently at peace with Him. Therefore, repent! 

He has struck them, He has slain them, He has contended with them, He has banished them from His presence, He has driven them away (27:7-8). But He will forgive the sin of His people. 

Repentance is not cheap, not a simple, “I am sorry,” nor an “I will not do it again, I promise.” You will do it again, as long as the sin nature remains alive and well in you. It was the same for me.

The Lord speaks it plainly in Isaiah 27:9. What is the full price of His pardon for sin? You must destroy all your altars and idols to false gods, completely pulverizing them until they are like chalk dust. 

But you will say, I do not have any altars or any idols made of stone or metal or wood! The root of all false gods is the god of self, which always seeks what it wants and rejects what the Lord commands. 

So, He waits for you to repent and ask Him to destroy your sin nature. Then the god of self, which produces poisonous berries rather than good grapes, will also be destroyed. 

Then the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit will come and indwell you fully (John 14:23). Then you will become His vineyard once again. Then He will tend you, and you will produce His fruit! 

Then the Lord and you and I will sing together!

Lord Jesus, I pray Your people would see themselves in this passage and would repent and turn back to you, and cry out for You to change their hearts. You will surely answer when they do, just as you answered me. Amen.

2Corinthians 4 — To a Church in Crisis, With Love

Text: 2Corinthians 4

With love, even God’s own divine love in our hearts, Paul and I speak to you from 2Corinthians 4 today. We want you to join us in being the Amen to God’s promises of reconciliation, of salvation, and of the infilling of the Holy Spirit! Yes! Truth! He has done it in me! You will say it, when you are filled!

If I were to give this a title, it would be, “This Treasure In Jars of Clay.” In us is a treasure — the fullness of the Holy Spirit! It is in jars of clay (our physical bodies), so it is obvious to everyone that the power and wisdom we have is not our own, but God’s!

We say these things to you so that you will understand what happens when you obey Jesus’ command to be filled with the Holy Spirit. Then, you will do as we do, and will not become weary or discouraged as you go about telling people what you have seen and heard (Acts 4:20). You will not be able to stop speaking about the Lord!

Verse 1 — 

Therefore! Paul continues to describe the ministry of the Spirit. By God’s great mercy, Paul and Timothy and all who are Spirit-filled have the ministry of the Spirit. So we are bold in our speech, to the world and to the church! We have in us the greater glory that does not fade, causing us to shine in the darkness of this world. We no longer willfully disobey God, but the Lord continues to form His character in us!

We have the ministry of the Spirit, to us and through us! We could not minister if we did not have the fullness of the Spirit! Because He has filled us, we do not lose heart (lose courage, become weary). 

Verse 2 

Because we have this ministry of the Spirit, we have renounced (formally announced our abandonment of) things hidden because of shame. Since the Lord cleansed our hearts and crucified our sin natures, we no longer have anything to hide, for we no longer do shameful things! 

We do not walk in craftiness (cunning, trickery). We do not adulterate (handle deceitfully) the Word of God. Why does Paul write such a thing?

Many false teachers in Corinth, and many false teachers in today’s church, twist the Word of God, using cunning and trickery to lead you away from the truth! They say what you want to hear, not what you need to hear. Why? So they can fulfill their own desires for money, power and fame! Beware of the wolves who have come among you, and the wolves who have arisen from within you, O church, for they wear sheep’s clothing but want to devour you (Acts 20:29-30)!

We do not adulterate the word, nor walk in craftiness. We are the visible evidence of the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ which we proclaim. We do not deceive you or twist the Word of God! Why, because the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of truth (John 14:17), is within us! Therefore, we are able to commend ourselves. We are the proof of the legitimacy of His ministry in and through us. And we commend ourselves in the sight of God, for we stand before Him!

Verses 3-4 —

But there are those who have chosen to perish by rejecting the truth that we announce, and the glory that shines from us! Their minds are blinded by Satan. They reject Christ, who is the exact representation of God (Hebrews 1:3). And so, the gospel is veiled (covered up, hidden) to those who have chosen to reject it.

Who has blinded them? The god of this world (age), Satan, who has been given permission by the Lord to deceive, for a while. He is the ruler of this world, but will soon be cast out (John 12:31). Listen to Paul’s assignment from the Lord —

Acts 26:18 . . . “to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who have been sanctified (purified, made holy) by faith in Me.’”

Beloved, I was in the dominion of Satan, I rejected Christ for 42 years. But thanks be to God, I heard the gospel from those who had the ministry of the Spirit and  lived the gospel, and I turned from the dominion of Satan to God. I was blind, but now I see! Hallelujah!

Jesus Christ’s light shines in the darkness, and the darkness cannot overcome His light (John 1:5). But I know many who steadfastly reject His light, though it is visible to all mankind. I pray they hear the truth from those who are filled with the truth of God, for like me, their blindness will be healed! 

Verse 5 

We do not preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as the Lord’s and your permanent bond-servants. False teachers will preach about their  successful ministry, and will tell you that God will do the same for you, if you do what they have done! 

But we are bond-servants who serve you permanently, because God’s divine love has filled our hearts. In the Book of Exodus, if a slave had served long enough to pay his debt, he was set free. But some wanted to remain and serve their masters because they loved their master —

Exodus 21:5 “But if the slave plainly says, ‘I love my master, my wife and my children; I will not go out as a free man,’ 6 then his master shall bring him to God, then he shall bring him to the door or the doorpost. And his master shall pierce his ear with an awl; and he shall serve him permanently.”

We do not serve ourselves, as do the false teachers among you. We serve you, out of the divine love of God which has filled our hearts! 

Why do we preach Christ Jesus as Lord, and us as His servants? For the sake of Christ, that all may know God’s great sacrifice on their behalf. Our only desire is that they would believe and become children of God (John 1:12), and then obey His command to stay and wait for the promise of the Father — the baptism of the Holy Spirit, to purify their hearts! 

Verse 6 —

Again we preach it! God said, Light shall shine out of darkness —

Isaiah 9:2 The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined.

Just as God said, “Let light be,” in the creation (Genesis 1:3), He again says, “Let My light be in you!” God is the one who has shone in our hearts, to give us the Light of the intimate and complete knowledge of the glory of God, the glory which shone from the face of Christ! 

Now the light shines from our faces! It is the ministry of the Spirit in us! We are His witnesses here and the Spirit ministers through us, because we have obeyed Christ’s command to be filled with the Spirit (Acts 1:8)! 

Do you have His Light in you, beloved? Does your face shine with His glory?

Verse 7 —

God gave us the treasure of His Light, the fullness of the Holy Spirit, in earthen vessels — jars of clay. We are nothing to look at, but simply vessels. 

We do not want people to look at us and admire us, but we want them to see the Lord who is in us! I am so glad I am just a jar of clay! Why? 

Because God manifests the surpassing greatness (superabundance, excellency beyond measure) of His power (God’s miracle-working power) through such ones. Then, whoever we meet will see that it is God’s excellency beyond measure, and His power, not ours! I am just a jar of clay, nothing special, so when He does something through me, you will know it is Him! 

Many false prophets and teachers will do powerful things, to draw attention to themselves. But do not be deceived! Jesus will say to such ones, I never, ever knew you! Away from me, you who sin (see John 7:21-23)!

Verse 8 —

We are persecuted by those who reject our light and remain under Satan’s dominion. We are persecuted in every way possible, but we are not crushed (hemmed in so we cannot minister amidst the persecution). 

We are perplexed (we have no way out of it, but), but not despairing (not at a loss as to why we are persecuted). We know it is because of Christ in us!

Verse 9 —

We are persecuted, but not forsaken (for the Lord is always with us and in us!). We are struck down (thrown down, i.e., physically assaulted), but not destroyed (we do not perish), because even physical death has no victory or sting (1Corinthians 15:55)! We simply go to be with our King (2Corinthians 5:8)!

Verse 10 —

We always carry around in our body the dying of Jesus. What is the evidence of the dying of Jesus? The Holy Spirit, who was not given until after He died, rose, ascended, and was glorified (John 7:39), filling all who will ask it of their Father in heaven! 

Why do we carry the Holy Spirit around in our bodies? So the life of Jesus may be shown in our bodies! 

Verse 11 —

For we are constantly being delivered over to death for Jesus’ sake. For the sake of His gospel, we are constantly in danger of death because of those who reject Christ. And in that persecution, the life of Jesus is also evident, in our mortal flesh.

But this passage has a double meaning. We no longer willfully disobey God because our sin nature has been crucified and we no longer live, but Christ lives in us (Galatians 2:20). Now we have His divine nature (2Peter 1:4). But we are daily being taken from one degree of Christlikeness to the next and the next, just as Paul wrote in 2Corinthians 3:18!

We constantly look more like Jesus because we gladly, constantly submit to the perfect Potter’s hands, because we are filled with His divine love! And we know that He who began a good work in us will continue to perfect (complete the character of Christ in) us until the day of the Lord Jesus (Philippians 1:6)! 

So, death works in us, in that way. But life works in you who hear the message and believe into Christ!

Verses 13-14 

We have a spirit of faith because we are filled with the Holy Spirit, so though we are greatly afflicted, we believe

Psalm 116:9  I shall walk before the LORD 

In the land of the living.

10  I believed when I said, 

“I am greatly afflicted.”

We believe into Christ, we believe what He has done in our hearts, we believe we shine with His light, we believe, though we are greatly persecuted! And so, we speak! And we know He is faithful—

Psalm 118:5    From my distress I called upon the LORD; 

The LORD answered me and set me in a large place (wide space).

We may be murdered for our faith, but we know He who raised Jesus from the dead will also raise us and present us (stand beside us), with all who have heard and believed our message. We will not perish, but we will be with Him in His wide space — even His kingdom in heaven!

Verse 15 —

For all things are for your sakes — all things are for you, to whom we minister by the Spirit. We have no self-interest. Our interest is that you may know Christ! Our self-centeredness and self-interest was removed from our hearts when our sin nature was crucified! 

We minister to you for your sakes! We minister to you so that the grace of God which is spreading (superabounding) to more and more people, may cause the giving of thanks to abound (superabound), thus glorifying God! 

The Spirit ministers through us, announcing God’s unmerited favor. And we announce His divine work in our hearts, which is reflected in our lives! It is not just for a chosen few, but this divine work in the human heart is for every believer!

Verse 16 

Therefore — because of all of these things — we do not lose heart. We are not discouraged, we do not become weary! Our outer man is certainly decaying as we age, but our inner man (our spirit) is being renewed day by day, because we are filled with the Holy Spirit! The Lord’s living water provides continual refreshment to our spirits, even while it flows from our bellies (John 7:38)!

Verses 17-18 — 

The persecution we now suffer is just momentary. Therefore, it is just a light burden. Why do we see it that way? Because as His bond-servants, we have an eternal weight (load, abundance) of glory, far beyond all comparison! 

We will receive a crown of righteousness, as Paul tells Timothy —

2Timothy 4:8 in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing.

We will hear these words from Jesus Christ, our Master —

Matthew 25:21 “His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’”

We do not consider, heed, or regard the things which are seen. They are only temporal. We do not consider what we endure for Christ’s sake.

But we consider, heed and regard the things which are not seen. These things are eternal. These things include the crown of righteousness we will receive, and the experience of continually worshiping the Lord, in His heavenly kingdom!

We serve you not out of selfish motives. We are nothing but jars of clay! But we surely serve you so that you may be saved from the wrath of God through belief into Jesus Christ, and then filled with the Holy Spirit, who will purify your heart and fill you with God’s divine love. Then, the Spirit will minister through you, just as He does through us! 

Lord Jesus, may your church hear what the Spirit is saying to the church, so they see their disobedience in not following your command to be filled with the Holy Spirit. May they cry out for you to change their hearts and fill them up, so they become Your witnesses here. Amen. 

BEHOLD! THE BRIDEGROOM!

[SW349] 10/20/2018 message notes by 

Pastor Susan J. Wynn ©2018

Behold! The Bridegroom!

Text: Matthew 25:1-13

There will be a shout — Behold! The Bridegroom! When Jesus Christ returns, will He find you filled with His oil? If so, you will be ready to meet Him and go in with Him to His marriage supper, as His bride!

It will be the consummation of the Father’s plan for His Son, Jesus Christ (Matthew 22:2). But only those who are ready will be there when the shout comes. 

I cannot get around it, beloved, though I have closely examined the commentaries and the Word of God, and have prayed long and hard. We are saved from God’s wrath and reconciled to God when we believe into Jesus, and we are given eternal life (John 3:16). But I see, from Jesus Christ’s own words in all of Matthew 25, that there are believers who will come before Him unprepared and empty-handed, and they will face His judgment.

Before I explore these verses, I will identify the ones in this parable, and show you some scriptures, to help you understand what Jesus Christ is saying.

— First, Jesus is the Bridegroom, and His church, both Jew and non-Jew, is His bride

Matthew 9:15 And Jesus said to them, “The attendants of the bridegroom cannot mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them, can they? But the days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast.”

John 3:28-29 “You yourselves are my witnesses that I (John the Baptist) said, ‘I am not the Christ,’ but, ‘I have been sent ahead of Him.’ 29 “He who has the bride is the bridegroom; but the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice. So this joy of mine has been made full.”

Ephesians 5:25   Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her . . .

— Second, the bride must make herself ready by asking Jesus Christ to purify her heart by filling her with His glorious Spirit

Revelation 19:7-8 “Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready.” 8 It was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.”

Ephesians 5:25   Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, 26 so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory (literally, glorious), having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless.

— Third, Jesus is ready to do His part to prepare her, and He assigns His ministers to exhort her to seek Him and ask Him to do it 

2Corinthians 11:2 For I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy; for I betrothed you to one husband, so that to Christ I might present you as a pure virgin.

Ephesians 4:11-13 And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping (perfecting) of the saints for the work of service (the work of ministry), to the building up of the body of Christ; 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.

— Fourth, oil is a symbol of the Holy Spirit and of holiness, and is sometimes referred to as “the anointing,” meaning the believer is filled with the Spirit

Exodus 40:9, 13 (The LORD directed Moses) “Then you shall take the anointing oil and anoint (with oil) the tabernacle and all that is in it, and shall consecrate it (make it holy) and all its furnishings; and it shall be holy. 13 “You shall put the holy garments on Aaron and anoint him and consecrate him (make him holy), that he may minister as a priest to Me.” 

(NOTE: The oil was to be poured upon Aaron’s head, so that it ran down his beard, per Psalm 133:2.)

1John 2:20 But you have an anointing from the Holy One (that is, you are filled with the Holy Spirit), and you know all things.

1John 2:27 As for you, the anointing which you received from Him abides in you, and you have no need for anyone to teach you; but as His anointing teaches you about all things (John 14:26, 16:13), and is true and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you abide in Him.

Now I pray you will be able understand the parable of the ten virgins, from Matthew 25:1-13. May it speak to your heart.

Verse 1 —

Then (when Jesus Christ returns, per Matthew 24:44) the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins going out to meet their Bridegroom. All ten took their lamps, because the Jewish marriage tradition was that the Bridegroom would come at night. In the natural, these would be small, oil-fed lamps. All ten were believers, because they all called Him Lord (see Verse 11).

Verse 2 —

As with the parable of the talents, and the separation of the goats and sheep, there is a difference between the virgins — 

— Five are foolish (scorned both for the condition of their hearts, and for their character) 

— Five are prudent (understanding, having keen discernment)

Verses 3-4 —

They were judged by Him to be either foolish or prudent by their actions. 

— The foolish took their lamps, but they took no oil with them. These were believers. But Jesus Christ commands us to be filled with the Holy Spirit, after we believe into Him (Luke 24:49, Acts 1:4-5). 

— The prudent took oil in flasks along with their lamps. They not only had a measure of the Holy Spirit (John 20:22), but they had their own endless supply of oil, in flasks (that is, within themselves). They had obeyed Jesus’ command to be filled with the Holy Spirit. 

Verse 5 — 

It seemed to the virgins that the Bridegroom was slow in coming. He tarried, in the eyes of all ten virgins. But He will come exactly when it is time! 

It was late, and all ten became tired, both the foolish and the prudent virgins. First they were drowsy, and then they fell asleep, because they had been waiting for Him for a long time. 

Even those who are filled with the Spirit say, Come, Lord Jesus! It has been so long! We love Your appearing (2Timothy 4:8)! But Peter reminds us of the reason for His tarrying:

2Peter 3:8   But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day. 9 The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance. 

Verse 6 — 

So, all ten virgins were asleep. But suddenly, at midnight, there was a shout, Behold! The Bridegroom! Come out to meet Him! And the shout woke them! It will be impossible to miss His coming!

1Thessalonians 4:16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore comfort one another with these words.

Verses 7-8 —

Then all ten virgins rose and trimmed (put in order) their lamps. They checked them to ensure they had oil, and trimmed the wicks so they would burn cleanly.

But the foolish believers discovered something! Their lamps were going out, and they had no oil to refill them! But they did not bring flasks filled with oil — they were not filled with the Holy Spirit.

They had heard the shout! Jesus was about to arrive! So they said to the prudent, Give us the oil of you (the literal translation), for our lamps are going out. We cannot go to the Bridegroom without oil for our lamps! But everyone must experience their own personal Pentecost, just as in Acts 2:3. 

Verse 9 —

So the prudent said, No, there will not be enough for us and you. They could not give them all of their oil. So they said, Go instead to the ones selling, and buy for yourselves. 

Go to those who have been exhorting you that you must obey Jesus’ command. Ask them to lay hands on you so are baptized with the Holy Spirit. Then you will be ready, because you will have an endless supply of oil! 

The cost to be filled with the Holy Spirit is very great. You must humble yourself! You must heed His words, see your poverty-stricken heart, and cry out to be filled with the Spirit. He will answer your cry, beloved, just as He answered mine! 

The prudent knew where the foolish could get the oil they needed. They had already humbled themselves. Their flasks were full — they were filled with the Spirit! So they directed the foolish to hurry off to get what they needed.

Verse 10 —

The foolish hurried off to buy, but while they were going away, the Bridegroom came! The five prudent virgins went in with Him to the wedding feast, and the door was shut. 

The five prudent virgins were ready! And after they went in, He closed the door. John writes of the supper in the revelation given to him by Jesus Christ —

Revelation 19:9   Then he said to me, “Write, ‘Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.’” And he said to me, “These are true words of God.”

The five foolish virgins were not ready, so they were not present when He came. They had no oil in their flasks. They had gone away to do what they should already have done.

Verse 11 —

So, when the foolish virgins finally saw their lack, it was too late! They came to the closed door, saying, “Lord, Lord, (original translation) open up for us.” 

Beloved, they called Him Lord, so they were believers, just as with the group of believers who buried the gospel, and the group of believers who did natural good deeds, rather than what He called them to do. 

Some commentators say every tongue will have to confess that He is Lord, in the day of judgment, so the five foolish virgins were not believers. But that argument stems from the theology of “once saved, always saved.” They must set that aside and look at the word of God. The five foolish were virgins, so they were believers who had been saved.

Verse 12 — 

“Lord, Lord (original translation), open up for us,” they cried. But He answered, “Truly I say to you, I do not know you.” 

The literal translation of “I do not know you” is “I have never, ever seen you.” They had never come to know Christ intimately, because they had never obeyed His command to be filled with His Holy Spirit. 

Both He and I want you to be ready, so you are able to go in before He closes the door. Yes, you were saved from the wrath of God and reconciled to Him when you believed, but do not disobey His command and thus sin against Him by rejecting the truth that you need to be filled with the Holy Spirit.

Verse 13 —

So Jesus warns His disciples, and all believers, Be on the alert then (wake up), for you do not know the day or the hour (of His coming). Wake up, and ask Him to fill you, beloved! 

Jesus warned the church at Sardis, which, He said, had a reputation for being alive but they were dead —

Revelation 3:2-3 “Wake up, and strengthen the things that remain, which were about to die; for I have not found your deeds completed in the sight of My God. 3 ‘So remember what you have received and heard; and keep it, and repent. Therefore if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come to you.”

Paul exhorts the believers in Ephesus —

Ephesians 5:14 For this reason it says, “Awake, sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” (See Isaiah 60:1.)

Ephesians 5:17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. 18 Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit.

Do not be foolish, but do the Lord’s will, beloved. Be filled with the Spirit! Then you will be ready! Then you will have a never-ending supply of oil within yourselves. 

Jesus tarries, but He will come just according to the timetable the Father has set. Do not be empty-handed and unprepared when the shout comes, “Behold! The Bridegroom!” 

Lord Jesus, may all who have believed into You hear Your words, and humble themselves and repent and cry out to You now, rather than when it is too late. Amen.

2Corinthians 3 — To a Church in Crisis, With Love

Text: 2Corinthians 3

With love, even God’s own divine love in our hearts, Paul and I move from 1Corinthians into 2Corinthians Chapter 3 today. We want you to join us in being the Amen to God’s promises of reconciliation, of salvation, and of the infilling of the Holy Spirit! Yes! Truth! He has done it in you, and in us! You will say it, when you are filled!

If I were to give this a title, it would be, “The Ministry of the Spirit.” Beloved, do you minister to others, in this way? 

Verse 1 — 

Paul once again asks if he must somehow commend (that is, provide proof) to them, or that he must supply them with letters of commendation from Jerusalem or from the believers in Corinth (!!) in order for them to believe Paul and obey his instructions! They continue to question and resist him. It grieves my heart, and it happens often in today’s church — particularly if a Spirit-filled pastor is appointed. 

So, he says, do I need to commend myself? Do I need to somehow prove I am from the Lord? Do I need to provide you with favorable letters of commendation from others, so you will trust me? Such things should not be necessary, but at Corinth, they 1) are listening to false teachers and 2) are offended by Paul’s exhortations.

Verse 2 —

You are our letter, declares Paul! You are our proof, for you came to Christ through me, and have been ministered to by Timothy. You are our letter, written in our hearts — we do not just come and go and forget about you, O Corinthians. You are in our hearts. And our hearts, and their contents, are known and read by all men.

There is no mistaking who we are. There is no doubt of our love, Paul says, in anyone’s heart but yours!

Verse 3 —
It has been shown, Paul says, that you, O Corinthians, are a letter of Christ, cared for by us (ministered to by us), written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God. 

They came to faith in Christ through Paul’s ministry. They belong to Christ because of Paul’s ministry to them! And some have a measure of the Spirit.

This letter of Christ is not written with ink, which will fade. It is written with the Spirit of the living God — He writes it, He is eternal, and what He writes is eternal! It is not written on tablets of stone, as were the Ten Commandments. It is written on tablets of human hearts! 

The evidence of Christ’s imprint on their hearts should be visible in them all, and is visible in some of them. But the conduct of others in the church at Corinth reveals that they are not yet letters of Christ. In many, there is nothing written on the tablets of their hearts yet. It is my own experience, and Christ’s and Paul’s exhortations, that they must be filled with the Holy Spirit, and then the love letter of Christ, and the two greatest commandments, will be written there!

Matthew 22:36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37 And He said to him, “‘YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.’ 38 “This is the great and foremost commandment. 39 “The second is like it, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’ 40 “On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.”

They will do these things when they are filled with His divine love! Are you filled with His divine love?

Verses 4-6 —

Such confidence we have through Christ toward God, says Paul. Timothy and Paul are confident that indeed, they are validated as apostles by the work done in the hearts of some of the Corinthian believers. They are not confident in their own ability to make it so, but on Christ’s, and they look toward God to do in the hearts of the Corinthians what must be done.

It is not that Timothy and Paul are adequate in themselves. Nothing that they do stems from their own adequacy. 

As he has said in 2:16, Who is adequate! Not I! Not Timothy! Not Paul! None of us! But their adequacy comes from God! Hallelujah!

We are filled with His Spirit and His divine love, and His Spirit teaches us all of the truth, and empowers us, making us Christ’s witnesses here. 

And many have come to salvation, because God’s empowerment is more than adequate — it is perfect and complete!

Who made Paul and Timothy and us adequate? God, when we were filled with the Holy Spirit! We could not otherwise be appointed as servants of a new covenant. What is this new covenant? 

It is not a covenant of the letter (the Law of Moses) but of the Spirit, for the letter kills. It shows us the poverty of our hearts but does not provide the cure for it. We cannot stop sinning as long as the sin nature is alive in us, and the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23)! 

So is the Law bad? No! Paul tells the believers in Rome that the Commandments holy and righteous and good, (Romans 7:9-12) but the sin nature in us causes us to rebel and disobey and sin.

But the Spirit gives life, zoe, life as God has it, eternal life! When Jesus died and rose and ascended and was glorified, the new covenant was instituted. Now, there is a way for human hearts to be changed so drastically that we are able to easily obey His commands. 

And it is a pleasure to do so! The sin nature, which always railed against God’s good and perfect Law, is crucified. We become partakers of the divine nature (2Peter 1:4), and doing God’s will is as automatic as breathing. Glory to His holy name! Oh, beloved, the Spirit gives LIFE!!! And then, God working through you by His Spirit, you bring life to others!

Verses 7-8 —

The ministry of death, in letters engraved on stones (the Ten Commandments), came with glory (the brilliant and fiery presence of God), so that the sons of Israel could not look intently at the face of Moses because of the glory of his face, even though that glory was fading —

Exodus 34:34 But whenever Moses went in before the LORD to speak with Him, he would take off the veil until he came out; and whenever he came out and spoke to the sons of Israel what he had been commanded, 35 the sons of Israel would see the face of Moses, that the skin of Moses’ face shone. So Moses would replace the veil over his face until he went in to speak with Him.

That ministry came with glory, but the ministry of the Spirit came with much more glory! It will not fade! It is eternal, because it is God’s glory, in a human container! 

Verse 9 —

The ministry of condemnation (the Ten Commandments condemn us as we read them because our sin natures are rebellious and we do not do them) came with glory.

But how much more does the ministry of righteousness — that is, the ministry of the Holy Spirit to us when He fills us and makes us righteous, and through us, as He ministers through us to others —  superabound in glory!

Verses 10-11 — 

What had glory — the ministry of the Lord to and through Moses — is now surpassed by the ministry of the Spirit. Moses’ face shone while he was in the presence of the Lord, but the shine faded until he went into the tent of meeting again. But the Spirit who fills us and remains in us causes the glory of God to shine brightly from us, always! 

Verses 12-14 —

Therefore, having such a hope — what a hope! Christ in us, the hope of glory! His glory in us, and shining from us always! Paul and Timothy have that hope, and so they speak with great (abundant) boldness (straightforwardness) to the believers at Corinth, and everywhere they go!

We who are filled with the Spirit are not like Moses, who used to put a veil over his face so the sons of Israel would look intently at the end of what was fading away. Our glory does not fade away! 

But the sons of Israel had hearts that were hard and rebellious against the Law. Until this very day, at the reading of the Law of Moses, the veil remains over their hearts. 

Why? It is removed in Christ, the Messiah whom they still reject. If it were lifted from their hearts (and it will be, at the end of things, per Romans 11:25-27), He will lift the veil so they can see the true meaning of the Law, and cry out for Him to take the rebellion from their hearts and fill them with His glory!

Verses 15-16 —

Paul repeats himself, for emphasis, saying, And to this day, whenever Moses (the Law of Moses) is read, a veil lies over their heart. But whenever a person turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away! 

When I turned to the Lord, it was because I had the first glimpse of my heart. I needed a Savior from my past sins! Then, I heeded His words and realized my heart was still rebellious. So I cried out to be filled with the Holy Spirit. If you will do the same, you will shine continually!

Verses 17-18 —

Now the Lord is the Spirit — they are both God, and the Lord comes to us by way of the Spirit. They and the Father fill us with themselves (John 14:23). 

And where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. Is it liberty to do what we want, without penalty of death? No! This liberty is freedom from slavery to sin (Romans 6:7, 18, 22) just as promised by Jesus Christ in John 8:31-36!

Oh, that you, O believer, would continue in His words, and thus show yourself to be His disciple, for you would know the truth, and the truth would set you free from slavery to sin — free indeed, free to the uttermost, forever free from the sin nature that causes your heart to be veiled and hard and rebellious! Glory to God! 

Do you want to know your life’s purpose? It is to be set free from sin and to then shine in such a way that none can deny that Jesus Christ is who He says He is, sent by the Father! It is to be as He is, in this world! He will do it, if you ask Him!

And then you will be able to say with Paul and the rest —

We all, with unveiled faces, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord — we are the reflection of that glory — are being transformed (metamorphoo, as with Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration) into the same image, from one degree of glory to the next degree of glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit. 

Once we are filled, He continues to form His character in us, and we reflect His image and shine ever brighter as we grow! And I am confident that He will always do so —

Philippians 1:6 For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.

Hallelujah! May you seek all that Christ commands you to have! You will shine! Amen, Lord Jesus! So be it!

WILL YOU INHERIT THE KINGDOM?

[SW348] 10/13/2018 message notes by 

Pastor Susan J. Wynn ©2018

Will You Inherit the Kingdom?

Text: Matthew 25:31-46

Who will inherit the kingdom of God? In this passage, Jesus will show you that it is the same as in the parable of the talents. There are rewards for obedience, and dire consequences for disobedience.

If you are convicted by Jesus’ words in this passage, there is hope! Repent and cry out to Him!

Many commentators and believers assume that in this passage, Jesus is referring to good works that are done to meet humanity’s natural needs. But even those who have rejected Jesus Christ will supply such things. 

Many people in the world need food, drink, shelter, clothing, healing of their bodies, and support when they are in prison. But much more, they need to be saved from the wrath of God and reconciled to Him by believing into Jesus Christ! 

So, He is not referring to meeting humanity’s natural needs, but to works that only He can do, through believers whose hearts are completely His.

Verse 31 —

The time will come when the Son of Man, Jesus Christ, comes in His glory. He comes to judge.

No one will be able to miss His coming, for it will be like lightning which flashes across the sky, easily seen from afar —

Matthew 24:27 “For just as the lightning comes from the east and flashes even to the west, so will the coming of the Son of Man be.”

He will be visible to all the earth, when He comes. All the angels will be with Him, myriads upon myriads and thousands upon thousands of them (Revelation 5:11). It will be an awesome and powerful sight! And He will sit on His glorious throne, where He will judge.

Verses 32-33 —

Who will He judge? Peter tells us that judgment begins with the household of God, that is, with believers (1Peter 4:17). And now, there are both Jewish and Gentile believers. Therefore, Jesus says all believers from all the nations will be gathered before Him. 

He will separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. NOTE: In the natural, sheep are able to withstand cold nights because they are covered with wool, so they don’t need to be closely herded together to survive the night. But goats are covered only with hair, and must be closely herded together at night, or they will not survive the cold.

In what way will Jesus separate one believer from another? He will put the sheep on His right, and the goats on His left. That is His judgment. But what happens to each group?

Verse 34 —

On the day of judgment, the King will say to the sheep who are on His right, “Come you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world (before anything was).” They are His true children, co-heirs with Christ (Romans 8:17)!

It is just as in the parable of the talents. He will say to some believers, Well done, good and faithful slave! Enter into the joy of your Master!” But other believers will not hear those words, on the day of judgment. 

These believers are blessed by His Father! These believers inherit the kingdom of God, says Jesus! But He only says these words to His sheep who are on His right, not to the goats who are believers (see Verse 44), but are on His left. Why are those on His right blessed? Why do they inherit the kingdom of His Father?

Verse 35-36 —

Jesus Christ tells them they did works that the world cannot do. What did they do? He says, 

— I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat. 

You saw that many were in need of the Bread of Life, and you gave them Me (John 6:35). And they no longer hungered, and now they stand at My right, with you.

— I was thirsty and you gave Me something to drink. 

You saw that many were in need of my living water. So you proclaimed that I would give them My living water so they would never thirst again. My living water gave them eternal life which sprung up like a fountain within them (John 4:14)! With joy, they drew water from Me, the fountain of salvation (Isaiah 12:3)! And now they stand at My right, with you. 

— I was a stranger, and you invited Me in. 

Many were far from My Father and Me. But you told them that I would welcome and give eternal life to whosoever will repent (Matthew 4:17) and believe into Me (John 3:16). They repented and believed and entered into eternal life. And now they stand at My right, with you.

— I was naked, and you clothed Me. 

Once they were saved, they realized they had no power to live out and spread My gospel. But you told them that I command them to wait until they are clothed with power from on high (Luke 24:49). The Holy Spirit is the power from on high (Luke 1:35). So they obeyed and were filled with My Holy Spirit! And now they stand at My right, with you.

— I was sick, and you came to Me. 

Once they were saved, they found that they were still sin-sick, unable to keep from sinning (Romans 7:19). But you came to them with the good news that when they are filled with My Holy Spirit, their sin nature is crucified (Galatians 5:24) and they become partakers of the Father’s and My divine nature (2Peter 1:4). So they were healed of their sin. And now they stand at My right, with you.

— I was in prison, and you came to Me. Once they were saved, they found that they were still slaves to sin, imprisoned by their sin natures. 

But you came to them and told them about My promise that I will set them free from slavery to sin (John 8:36), purifying their hearts (Acts 15:9). So they obeyed and were filled with My Holy Spirit, and I did all of these things in them! And now, they stand at My right, with you.

Verses 37-39 —

The righteous — those who are filled with the very righteousness of God because they are filled with the Holy Spirit — will be surprised! When did we do these things to You, Lord? They did not realize that as they obeyed and were filled and went forth to do all these things that only He could do (Him working through them), they were blessing Him! 

What is more, He says that by doing them for the least of His brethren, they did them for Him (Verses 37-38). They did these things even to the least of these who now stand at His right. They did these things for all mankind, including those who were of no significance in the world’s eyes. 

So, even the least of these now stand before Him, on His right, with you. They also have done the will of His Father in heaven (Mark 3:35, Matthew 12:50), so they are His brethren. They are His sheep. 

And they have done these things to Him. It is not that He needed to be saved and sanctified, for He is the Savior and Sanctifier. So what does He mean?

They did what He has commanded all believers to do. So, He was blessed when they obeyed, and is blessed by the glorious result  — all of the sheep who are now at His right hand!

Verses 41-43 —

But the judgment is different, for the believers on His left, who are the goats. They are believers, for they call Him “Lord” (again, see Verse 44). 

But He says, Depart from Me, accursed (doomed) ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels. He condemns them to hell!

Why? They gave Him nothing —

— They never spoke to the hungry about the Bread of Life

— They never spoke to the thirsty about His living water

— They never invited any stranger to come into the kingdom of God by repenting and believing

— They never gave imprisoned believers clothing with power from on high, laying hands on them so they would be filled with the Holy Spirit

— They never spoke of freedom from slavery to sin 

Because they never did these things to anyone, they never did these things to Him. Heed His words, beloved!

In their churches, no one ever told them they must be filled with the Holy Spirit so they have power to live out and proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ.They never opened their Bibles to learn for themselves that Jesus commands all believers to do so. 

Instead, they did what the world can do equally well. They met the needs of humankind in natural ways. They did not do the things that only Jesus Christ can do, working through them.

Verses 44-45 —

So these believers, the goats who are on His left, will also be surprised. They will say, Lord, when did we see You and not do these things? When did we not take care of You (serve You)? 

Lord, we worked hard and spent the church’s resources in order to serve natural food and natural drink, inviting them to come and eat and drink in our church’s fellowship hall. We worked hard and spent the church’s resources to take food and drink to others! We worked hard and spent the church’s resources on “attractional” events at our church.We gave them clothing from our clothes closets, and went to prisons to visit them.

And He will say, Truly I say to you, that you did not do it for even one of My sheep, who now stand before Me on My right. So, you did not do it for Me. You did nothing for Me, because you did nothing for them!

Jesus was never able to rejoice with them, He was never blessed by them and by all who would come to repentance and faith in Him, because they never did what He commanded them to do. That is why He will curse them and sentence them to hell. 

If only they had done His Father’s will, by asking Him to fill them with His Holy Spirit, they would have been His sheep, and at His right hand, along with all of those who came to faith and were filled through the ministry the Lord did through them. If only! But they did not.

Verse 46 —

And just as in Matthew 25:30, the believers on His left, the goats, will go into eternal punishment. But the righteous, those filled with His righteousness who went out with His gospel, will go into eternal life.

He does not desire that any should perish, O believer. He desires that all should come to repentance (2Peter 3:9). 

Beloved, if you will heed His words, see the poverty of your heart, and ask Him to change it, He will surely do it. He will fill you with His Spirit, and you will not come to Him empty-handed, but will have done what He commanded you to do. 

Then, at the time of judgment, You will be a glad sheep. When all believers are separated, you will find yourself to be at His right hand. And you, even you, will become a co-heir with Him.

Lord Jesus, may many heed your words today. Amen.

2Corinthians 2 — To a Church in Crisis, With Love

Text: 2Corinthians 2

With love, even God’s own divine love in our hearts, Paul and I move from 1Corinthians into 2Corinthians Chapter 2 today.We want you to join us in being the Amen to God’s promises of reconciliation, of salvation, and of the infilling of the Holy Spirit! Yes! Truth! He has done it in you, and in us!

If I were to give this a title, it would be, “Filled With the Fragrance of Christ.” Again, this is part of becoming the Amen!

Verse 1 —

Paul speaks again about his decision not to come to Corinth. In 2Corinthians 1:23, he said it was to spare them another painful visit.

He determined not to come “for my own sake,” he says. A better translation is “with myself.” Why? So he would not come to them in sorrow (sadness, grief) again. He was not angry, but filled with grief and sadness, when he came for that painful visit, and when he sent them the severe letter. He did not want to be grieved again.

Verse 2 —

For if Paul causes them sorrow (grief), then what makes him glad (rejoicing) but the ones whom I made sorrowful (filled with grief)? His reason for coming was to correct them, to wake them up, to rescue them from spiritual peril. And, if they have heeded His words, seen their hearts, and cried out to the Lord for Him to change their hearts, Both Paul and the Lord are glad, indeed! That is godly sorrow, beloved!

Verse 3 — 

The words Paul writes in Verse 2 were also in the severe letter that he sent. Why did he send that severe letter? So that when he came, he would not have sorrow (grief) from those over whom he should be able to rejoice. They are his children in the faith, and yet, they are rebelling and sinning against the Lord! He made them sorrowful, so they would repent. Oh, how he wants to be able to rejoice over them rather than be grieved by them!

And yet, he has confidence (is convinced, believes) regarding all of the believers at Corinth, that his joy will be the joy of them all — that all will repent and be filled with the Spirit. Then they will rejoice together!

Beloved, Paul and I want you to have the joy we have, and you will, when you heed and see and cry out, and are filled with the Spirit! You will be filled with His joy — and it is joy unspeakable and full of glory!

Verse 4 —

It was not easy for Paul to write that severe letter. It was birthed out of much affliction (burden) and anguish of heart. It was bathed in many (abundant) tears — not so the believers at Corinth would be grieved, but so that they might know the love He has especially (superabundantly) for them!

It is that way for all of us who speak to today’s church. We love you with God’s divine love. It is not easy to speak and write these words. We are compelled to do it because of the divine love of God with which He has filled our hearts!

Verse 5 —

But if any have caused sorrow, they have, to some degree, caused sorrow not to Paul so much as to the whole church at Corinth. He does not say this to be burdensome, but to speak the truth. Sin of even one member of the church affects everyone, beloved!

Verses 6-8 —

Now, he says the punishment inflicted by the whole church at Corinth on a particular one (see 1Corinthians 5) has been sufficient (fit, ample). The sinner has grieved and repented.

Therefore, they should forgive and comfort him and not cause him further sorrow. Otherwise, he might be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. 

So, the church should now bring him back in, and reaffirm (confirm) their love for him. He has received appropriate discipline.

It is just as John Wesley did with the penitent bands. If you sinned, you were placed with fellow sinners, separate from the church. You were exhorted in the penitent band until your heart became repentant and the fruit of repentance — a changed heart — was evident in you. Then you were welcomed back into the church, in the love of Christ.

Verse 9 —

Now Paul explains the purpose for the instructions he gave them in 1Corinthians 5. He instructed them in order to put them to the test, to see if they would obey his exhortation to separate the sinner from the church and allow Satan to sift him for a while. 
And now he puts them to the test again, to see if they will welcome the man, who has now repented, back into the congregation. If they do, Paul will see that they are obedient in all things related to this situation.

Verses 10-11 —

Paul says anytime you forgive anyone anything, know that Paul has also already forgiven —

Matthew 6:14 “For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 “But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.”

Whatever Paul has forgiven, he has forgiven in the presence of Christ (for he stands before Christ, per 1Timothy 5:21, 6:12 and 2Timothy 4:1). And Paul has forgiven all of them (whoever), for their own sakes, so that they may also forgive in the same way as he has forgiven.

Why? So that Satan would not take advantage of (defraud, steal from) Paul, or them. Paul says, we are not ignorant of his schemes. I tell you the truth, Satan will do whatever he can to make infants in Christ fight with one another! 

Satan rubs his hands together with glee when there is upheaval in the church. He rejoices when believers do not forgive one another, for in so doing, their spiritual survival is in peril! Oh, how hearts need to be changed, completely, by the infilling of the Holy Spirit. As it was at Corinth, so it is now! 

Verses 12-13 — 

Paul now speaks of his missionary journey to Troas and then on to Macedonia. When Paul was filled with the Spirit (Acts 9:17), the Lord gave him something that he manifests, as he goes  — the sweet aroma of knowledge (ginosko, absolute knowledge, beyond first knowledge) of Christ!

He does not speak of these things to boast, but so that the believers at Corinth would see the results of obedience to Christ’s command to be filled with the Spirit and pour forth His fragrance wherever they go! It is the same for me, as I speak to today’s believers!

Paul went to Troas, where a door was opened for him in the Lord. It was an opportunity given by the Lord to carry the gospel to them.

He had no rest for his spirit, though, because he did not find Titus, his brother, there. So he went on to Macedonia, and Titus joined him there (see 7:6-7).

Verse 14 —

Paul now launches into great thanksgiving, and a glorious picture of what it is to be filled with the Holy Spirit, and out in the mission field (which may be your own neighborhood, beloved)! 

But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ! It is a procession where Christ is the Leader, and all who are His follow after Him, rejoicing and celebrating His work in and through them! This is not an exercise in imagination, but it is truth! Indeed, we triumph over persecution and over Satan’s wiles through Christ in us! He has filled us, and dwells in us fully, as do the Father, and the Spirit! 

And as we go about, Christ manifests (shows forth) the sweet aroma (fragrance) of the knowledge of Him in every place! Wherever we go, the fragrance of Christ goes with us, and is readily detected by everyone around us! And we have that fragrance because we fully know Him!

Verses 15-16 —

And that fragrance is not just detected around us as we walk about the earth, but it is a sweet savor to God our Father, in heaven.The sweet fragrance of His Son in us fills His nostrils! How wonder-full!

And our fragrance goes forth to everyone — those who are being saved, and those who are perishing. Some choose to perish, because they reject Christ, beloved. 

To the one, an aroma from death to death — that is, to those who reject Christ. But to the other, it is an aroma from life to life — that is, to those who receive Christ. It is not ordinary life, not the existence I used to live, but zoe, life as God has it, eternal life! Hallelujah!

And who is adequate (competent, worthy) for these things? Certainly not I! But the Lord does His work through Paul and all who are filled with His Spirit. He causes that fragrance to emanate from us! We dare not believe, nor would it even cross our minds that we could possibly carry the gospel, apart from Him —

John 15:5 “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.”

Verse 17 —

For we are not like many, peddling (adulterating) the word of God, but as from sincerity (purity of heart), but as from God (He who has sent us out), we speak in Christ in the sight of God! Beware! There are many false teachers who peddle the Word of God today, claiming (among other false things) that you can get whatever you want from God by claiming Scripture passages. The operative word is, “you.” Beloved, just like me, you need a new heart after you are saved, just like I did. You need to obey Christ’s command to be filled with the Holy Spirit! 

The words I speak are not my words, beloved. I would not begin to know how to preach the gospel. I do as Paul exhorted Timothy to do —

2Timothy 2:15 Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.

And yet Paul and the others and I depend on Christ, and His Holy Spirit, to empower us and give usP wisdom, when we teach and preach. I will teach all of the truth, as He shares it with me when I ascend His hill, early in the morning!

And like Paul and the rest, I speak in Christ. I am standing before God, in His presence, because He has purified my heart —

Psalm 24:3  Who may ascend into the hill of the LORD? 

And who may stand in His holy place?

4  He who has clean hands and a pure heart, 

Who has not lifted up his soul to falsehood 

And has not sworn deceitfully.

I could not give myself clean hands and a pure heart. He did it! I am nothing — I am not adequate. But He makes me adequate, just as He does Paul and the rest, by filling us with His Spirit! We will see it, in Chapter 3. 

Lord, may your church heed the words given by Paul to the believers at Corinth. As you show them their hearts, may they cry out for heart change. You will gladly do it! 

Amen, Lord Jesus! So be it.