Resurrection, Thanksgiving, and Praise

May 14, 2012 in Bible - NT - 2 Corinthians, Easter, Meditations, Resurrection

2 Corinthians 4:13–15 (NKJV)
13 And since we have the same spirit of faith, according to what is written, “I believed and therefore I spoke,” we also believe and therefore speak, 14 knowing that He who raised up the Lord Jesus will also raise us up with Jesus, and will present us with you. 15 For all things are for your sakes, that grace, having spread through the many, may cause thanksgiving to abound to the glory of God.
What is the significance of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead? This is the question we have asked for several weeks during this time of Eastertide. As we anticipate Ascension Sunday and Pentecost Sunday in the weeks to come, I would like to close our observations on the resurrection today. In our text today Paul helps us understand the significance of the resurrection: Jesus rose from the dead so that we might be thankful and praise our God.
To make his point, Paul quotes from Psalm 116, “I believed and therefore I spoke.” Long ago the psalmist penned these words while thanking God for delivering him from the pains of death. “The pains of death surrounded me, and the pangs of Sheol laid hold of me; I found trouble and sorrow. Then I called on the name of Yahweh; “O Yahweh, I implore you, deliver my soul!” In the course of the psalm, we learn that the Lord heard the psalmist’s prayer: “For you have delivered my soul from death, My eyes from tears, and my feet from falling. I will walk before the Lord in the land of the living.” In reponse to God’s kindness delivering him from the fear of death, the psalmist does the only thing he can rightly do: speak out, praise and thank the Lord. I will offer to You the sacrifice of thanksgiving, and will call upon the name of the Lord.
The faith and thanksgiving manifested by the psalmist are imitated and expanded by the Apostle Paul in our text today. The psalmist trusted the Lord and was delivered from death – and what was his response to this deliverance? He spoke, he praised God. So we also believe and therefore speak.
13 And since we have the same spirit of faith, according to what is written, “I believed and therefore I spoke,” we also believe and therefore speak, 14 knowing that He who raised up the Lord Jesus will also raise us up with Jesus, and will present us with you. 15 For all things are for your sakes, that grace, having spread through the many, may cause thanksgiving to abound to the glory of God.
Note that the reason we can join the psalmist in praising God for deliverance from death is because God in his grace and mercy has given us immense confidence in the face of death by raising Jesus from the dead. We thank and praise God knowing that He who raised up the Lord Jesus will also raise us up with Jesus. Death is a defeated foe; Christ is Risen, so we too shall rise.
Notice, therefore, that the end goal of Christ’s resurrection is that praise and thanksgiving might abound in all the world to Yahweh, the living God. Jesus came in order to restore rightful worship. Jesus rose from the dead in order to restore rightful worship. In other words, Jesus rose from the dead so that you would be here this morning, joining your voice in company with the voices of all God’s people and praising and thanking God for his mercies, thanking God that He has delivered us from the fear of death.
So, brethren, how eager are you to be here? God raised up Jesus so that you would be here this morning; so that you would your voice in company with the voices of your brothers and sisters; so that you would worship him. So how ought we to approach this morning? With sloth? With mere formality? With mumbling and inattention? May it never be! Let us join our voices week by week in thankful acknowledgement of God’s mercies toward us in Christ – Alleluia! Christ is risen! So let us worship.
Reminded that Jesus rose from the dead in order that we might worship Him together, we are also reminded how we often approach worship with insufficient joy and delight. So let us kneel and confess our sin to the Lord. We will have a time of private confession followed by the public confession found in your bulletin.

Now is the Day of Salvation

December 21, 2008 in Bible - NT - 2 Corinthians, Bible - OT - Isaiah, Meditations

2 Corinthians 6:1-2 (NKJV)1 We then, as workers together with Him also plead with you not to receive the grace of God in vain. 2 For He says: “In an acceptable time I have heard you, And in the day of salvation I have helped you.” Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.

Last week we noted that the Servant Songs of Isaiah serve not only as descriptions of the ministry of our Lord and Savior but also, frequently, as commissions for us. The character of our Lord is to be lived out in the life of His people.

But perhaps we have gotten ahead of ourselves? Did the New Testament really think that these Servant Songs with their lavish promises were being fulfilled through Jesus? Perhaps these things weren’t going to be fulfilled for many years yet to come. It is this suggestion that Paul’s words today completely undermine. He has just finished discussing the purpose of the death of Jesus. God made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. And so God is urging us, through His preachers, through His Church – be reconciled to God. Paul concludes this thought with our words today –

We then, as workers together with Him also plead with you not to receive the
grace of God in vain.

Paul urges His audience not to delay in calling upon the Lord to save them, to deliver them. They were not to be distracted by the deceitfulness of sin or by the winsome words of others but rather to trust in the Lord and believe His Word. To prove His point, Paul quotes from one of the Servant Songs. “In an acceptable time I have heard you, and in the day of salvation I have helped you.”

The questions this raises are who is “I” and who is “you”? The answers are that “I” is God and “you” is the Servant of the Lord. Listen to the passage:

Isaiah 49:8 (NKJV)8 Thus says the Lord: “In an acceptable time I have heard You, And in the day of salvation I have helped You; I will preserve You and give You As a covenant to the people, To restore the earth, To cause them to inherit the desolate heritages; that you may say to the prisoners, ‘Go forth,’ to those who are in darkness, ‘Show yourselves.’”

So the question we posed at the beginning was this – does the New Testament teach that these lavish promises of restoring the earth, of rescuing prisoners and giving sight to the blind, are being fulfilled in the ministry of Jesus? Well what does Paul declare in our text today?

Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.

The long promised restoration from exile is upon us. God has acted to deliver His people from their sin; He has lifted up the cross as a standard to the nations and is, by His Spirit, drawing all men to it. And so the call to us is the same – don’t miss out. Don’t miss God’s call and fail to join ranks with His people. He is remaking the world through His Christ – will you be part of this new world of life and joy or will you continue to dwell in the old world of death and war?

Reminded that we often fail to keep the contrast between the world that God has introduced in Christ and the world as it once existed in death; reminded that we too often coddle our sins, coddle the path of death; let us kneel and confess our sin to the Lord.