World English Bible translation
1:4I always thank my God concerning you, for the grace of God which was given you in Christ Jesus; 1:5 that in everything you were enriched in him, in all speech and all knowledge; 1:6 even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you: 1:7 so that you come behind in no gift; waiting for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ; 1:8 who will also confirm you until the end, blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. 1:9 God is faithful, through whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord.
The particular gifts that God granted to the Apostle Paul seemed to have been mainly in the areas of persuasion. Paul was a gifted evangelist. He preached the word of Christ to people who had never heard of Him and they responded. Paul established assemblies of believers in cities and towns where no one had even heard of Jesus before Paul came to town. But Paul was also given the gift to persuade people through his words on paper. In Today's Scripture we have one of the best examples of the persuasion of the Apostle at work in text.
Throughout this letter Paul will write many criticisms of the attitudes, beliefs and practices of the Corinthians. It would have been very easy for this letter to be written in a more negative tone. Paul, the evangelist, knows that people are persuaded when they are prepared to listen. This passage prepares the Corinthians to accept the instructions and admonitions that Paul will deliver throughout the letter. Whenever we reach a passage that is particularly critical of the Corinthian church, we might do well to return to this passage and remember how Paul first addresses them.
But make no mistake, this is not flattery. Paul is not buttering up the Corinthians in order to make a sale, like some unscrupulous shyster. What he writes here is born out throughout the rest of the letter and is consistent with Paul's theology and his understanding of the way that God works. God gives His gifts to men freely, even to men that are far from perfect in their thoughts and deeds. And it is God who confirms men in the end. God that will present them blameless on the day of the Lord. It is by the grace of God that we are given gifts and by the grace of God that we will be sustained. So, let us look more closely to what Paul tells the Corinthians with an idea to what each concept brings toward Paul's instruction for these Christians.
Today's Scripture is really a prayer of thanksgiving that Paul directs toward God on behalf of the Corinthians. Paul thanks God for His grace in giving so many wondrous gifts to the Corinthian church for their edification. In fact, he writes that they have been so blessed by God that there is "no gift" they have not received in abundance from God. Paul declares that the Corinthians are "behind" no other group in the blessings they have been given. As they wait for the Lord to be revealed, they lack for nothing. The "testimony of Christ" is confirmed in them and the Spirit of God is working in them drawing others toward Christ.
God has accomplished these things in order to show something wonderful about Himself. It is something that we tend to forget many times as well, something that we need to be reminded of every day.
What is revealed, to us and to the Corinthians, is that God is faithful. God has given promises. He is not obligated to us in any fashion. His promises are freely given. God has promised to accept sinners on the day of the Lord. God has promised that when the Lord is revealed, all those who have placed their faith and trust in Jesus Christ will be saved, despite the fact that on their own merits they are not worthy of that salvation. God has promised that in that day, those who are in Christ will be held blameless. This salvation is based on the mercy and the grace of God, and on the sacrifice of his Son, our Lord.
God is faithful. He gives gifts in abundance to those that are not worthy. They are not worthy of the gifts and they are not worthy of the salvation that the gifts foreshadow. The Corinthian church, for all its failings, divisions and doctrinal errors is an example of God's revelation at work.
Do you recognize that pattern in anyone else? Do you know of anyone else who is not worthy of God's salvation? If you do, remind them today that God is faithful. What God has promised to do, God will do!
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