II Corinthians 6:1-5

Sunday, February 2nd, 2014

Text: II Corinthians 6:1-5

OUR CREDENTIALS AS MINISTERS

INTRODUCTION:

I am not a salesman, but if I were, I would have a hard time selling a product that I did not believe was a good one. It would not matter whether it were appliances, electronic equipment, automobiles, feed, farm equipment, cleaning supplies, household supplies, or clothing. If I were not sold on the product myself, how could I represent it honestly. Wouldn't it look strange for a Chevrolet salesman to be driving a Ford automobile? Wouldn't that raise questions in the minds of the customers as to why?

Similarly, why should we as believers go about trying to serve the Lord, but acting as if we don't believe the gospel message? Why should we as believers go about trying to serve the Lord, but acting as if we don't believe the instructions in the Bible as to how to raise a family? As to the husband being the head of the home, and as to the wife being submissive? As to the necessity of having clean and pure lives? How can we go out and represent the Lord as His ambassadors, as His personal representatives, and not look the part? Have you ever seen a shaggy-haired barber? Probably not. Have you ever seen a professing Christian that did not act like one? Probably all too often.

In II Corinthians 6:1-10 we see that our lives as Christians and as servants of the Lord must be consistent with our profession.

I. OUR LIVES MUST DEMONSTRATE THAT THE GOSPEL REALLY WORKS - 6:1-4A

II Corinthians 6:1-4 a - (1) We then, as workers together with him, beseech you also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain. (2) (For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.) (3) Giving no offence in any thing, that the ministry be not blamed: (4a) But in all things approving ourselves as the ministers of God. . . .

1. We can receive the gospel in vain - 6:1

II Corinthians 6:1 We then, as workers together with him, beseech you also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain.

In verse 1 Paul urges the Corinthian believers to make certain they are really saved and living for the Lord.

We . . . beseech, where we is Paul, is we are beseeching (i.e. we are urging, we are exhorting, or we encouraging). Paul is beseeching the Corinthian believers by writing this letter.

Then is now or so.

As workers together with him has been translated as indicating how Paul is beseeching the Corinthian believers. It might instead be understood as indicating the reason Paul is beseeching the Corinthian believers in the sense of because (i.e. since or inasmuch as) we are workers together with Him, i.e. with God the Father.

Also suggests that we are beseeching something in addition to urging people to be reconciled to God in 5:20.

What Paul is strongly urging the Corinthian believers is that ye receive not the grace of God in vain.

That ye receive not is that you never receive or that you never accept, indicating your approval by your acceptance.

The grace of God is the grace of God (the Father) and refers to salvation by grace through faith, something which is undeserved.

In vain suggests with no result.

What can this possibly mean? How would someone receive the grace of God in vain? Some have suggested that it means -

(1) It is receiving grace and later losing it, i.e. being saved today, but possibly being lost in the future. But, this does not accord with all of Scripture which teaches that a saved person will never lose his salvation.

(2) It is equivalent to an appeal not to reject this great salvation by not receiving it in the first place. But, to receive in vain implies that a receiving takes place whereas to reject implies not to receive at all.

(3) It is an external receiving of God's grace which is not genuine, i.e. it is a false or spurious profession of faith. But, this doesn't fit the context. The Corinthians were saved people.

(4) Paul has in mind the judgment seat of Christ (II Cor. 5:10) where the believer's works will be made manifest. He is actually saying, "Make sure your practice measures up to your profession." Thus to receive the grace of God in vain would mean that their lives would be so inconsistent with their profession that they would imply with their lives that the claims of the gospel were not true, that it had not worked in their lives. Its effect was not being shown in their lives. Although they were genuinely saved, they were not making full use of the grace they had received, i.e. they were not living completely for the Lord and needed to begin doing so.

We must not receive the gospel of God in vain; instead -

2. We can have victory now - 6:2

II Corinthians 6:2 (2) (For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.)

Verse 2 is a parenthetic statement, written to remind the Corinthian believers that salvation as well as victory over sin in their daily lives are available to them. They do not have to receive the grace of God in vain.

For introduces a reason or cause and is understood in the sense of because.

He saith (i.e. the LORD) He says. The quotation is from Isaiah 49:8 and indicates that, although Isaiah is the human author of this verse, the LORD is its divine author and ultimate source of it. It supports the divine authorship of the Scriptures and indicates that it is still being said because it is written in the Bible. It says it whether anyone reads it or not.

The quotation is, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee. It is found in Isaiah 49:8 .

Isaiah 49:8 - Thus saith the LORD, In an acceptable time have I heard thee, and in a day of salvation have I helped thee: and I will preserve thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, to establish the earth, to cause to inherit the desolate heritages.

I have heard thee indicates that the LORD is speaking to Israel. It is I heard you or I listened to you. It implies that the Lord paid close attention to what Israel said and is responding. It has been translated in a way which emphasizes the result of its action.

In a time accepted indicates when the Lord heard Israel and means in a favorable time.

And in the day of salvation have I succoured thee.

In the day of salvation indicates when the Lord helped Israel.

Day is used of a period of time, and salvation speaks of deliverance.

Have I (i.e. the LORD) succoured thee (i.e. Israel), is I helped you or I came to your aid; and it has been translated in a way which emphasizes the result of its action. It refers to the Lord's deliverance of Israel in the Millennium.

Paul then applies this quotation from Isaiah to the Corinthians who may have received the grace of God in vain.

Behold marks a strong emphasis.

Now is means the present time (is).

The accepted time is understood in the sense of a welcome time, a pleasant time, or a favorable time. It is the time of the Lord's choosing.

Behold and now are repeated for emphasis. They are the same terms used in the previous clause.

Is the day of salvation is is a day of salvation. It is the same terminology found in the quotation from Isaiah 48:9 . Here, however, Paul is telling the Corinthians that the period of time in which they are living is a favorable time for them to be saved or delivered. Whereas salvation for Israel was intended as physical deliverance, salvation here is intended as deliverance from sin and its consequences if the individual is not yet saved or from lives characterized by defeat rather than by victory if they are saved but not living as they should.

The time for getting saved or delivered from sin and its consequences is always now. There will eventually come a day when it will be everlastingly too late. In the case of those who have been genuinely saved but are not living as they should, it is always time to straighten things out with the Lord by confession and forsaking of sin.

Believers have no excuse for defeat. However -

3. We discredit our own ministries by sin - 6:3

II Corinthians 6:3 Giving no offence in any thing, that the ministry be not blamed.

In verse 3 Paul returns to the thought of verse 1 after the parenthetical statement in verse 2. In verse 3 he contrasts what he, as a minister of Christ, always seeks not to do with what he always seeks to do in verse 4.

Paul seeks never to do anything which might in any way provide unsaved people with an excuse for rejecting the gospel. Paul is speaking of himself beginning in verse 3 and continuing through verse 10, and the ministry refers to his service for the Lord.

Giving is understood in the sense of while giving, while you give, and give, or and be giving.

No offence is no occasion for taking offense or no occasion for making a misstep.

In any thing is all inclusive. Believers should never do anything which might result in someone else falling into sin.

That the ministry be not blamed indicates the reason no offense should be given in anything.

That is in order that or for the purpose that.

The ministry is the ministry of proclaiming the gospel as an apostle mentioned in II Corinthians 4:1 or the ministry of reconciliation mentioned in II Corinthians 5:18 .

II Corinthians 4:1 - Therefore seeing we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we faint not.

II Corinthians 5:18 - And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation.

Be not blamed indicates never be blamed, never have fault found with it, or never be censured. Paul did not want to provide anyone with an excuse for rejecting the gospel or not living for the Lord by the way he conducted his life and ministry.

Rather than discrediting our ministries by sin -

4. We must be approving ourselves as the ministers of God - 6:4a

II Corinthians 6:4 a - But in all things approving ourselves as the ministers of God. . . .

Whereas verse 3 indicates that Paul always sought to do nothing which might provide a pretext for people to reject the gospel, verse 4 indicates that he always sought to demonstrate the genuineness of his ministry in order to provide a reason for people to receive the gospel he proclaimed.

But introduces a statement in strong contrast to verse 3 about giving offense in anything.

In all things is in every thing or in each thing. If Paul approves himself in every thing or in each thing, he will be approving himself in all things. Examples of what Paul means by in all things are given in verses 4 through 10.

Approving is used of providing evidence of something in the sense of while approving (i.e. while demonstrating, while showing, or while bringing out). It is the same word found frequently in II Corinthians, variously translated commend, commendation, commending, commendeth, commended, and approved.

By ourselves Paul means myself. It is a reference to Paul himself.

As the ministers of God is as God's ministers or servants. It is the same word translated deacons in other passages. It is a reference to Paul in his own ministry. What is true of Paul, however, should be true of all other believers.

II. OUR LIVES MUST EXHIBIT CONSISTENT CHRISTIAN CREDENTIALS - 6:4B-10

II Corinthians 6:4 b-10 - (4b) . . . In much patience, in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses, (5) In stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labours, in watchings, in fastings; (6) By pureness, by knowledge, by longsuffering, by kindness, by the Holy Ghost, by love unfeigned, (7) By the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armour of righteousness on the right hand and on the left, (8) By honour and dishonour, by evil report and good report: as deceivers, and yet true; (9) As unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and, behold, we live; as chastened, and not killed; (10) As sorrowful, yet alway rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things.

In verses 4b-8a Paul employs a series of twenty-one prepositional phrases, all of which begin with the same Greek word. The first ten prepositional phrases are translated with the word in. They are found in verses 4b and 5. The last eleven prepositional phrases are found in verses 6-8 and are translated with the word by. This word is capable of a variety of meanings, including in, suggesting in a particular state; with, suggesting association; and by or by means of, suggesting means. Verses 8-10 contain seven comparisons, each one beginning with the word as, comparing various statements about Paul.

In exhibiting consistent Christian credentials, we see that -

1. We must endure outward hardships - 6:4b-5

II Corinthians 6:4 b - . . . In much patience, in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses.

In verse 4b Paul uses four prepositional phrases, all of which begin with in and all of which are examples of the all things mentioned in the first half of verse 4 in which Paul is approving himself as a minister of God.

In much patience, where much is used to indicate a large quantity or measure.

Patience is the capacity to hold out or bear up in the face of difficulty and is understood in the sense of endurance, fortitude, steadfastness, or perseverance.

In afflictions is in trouble that inflicts distress in the sense of in oppressions or in tribulations.

In necessities speaks of situations which are described by a state of distress or trouble. In necessities is understood in the sense of in distresses, in calamities, or in pressures.

In distresses comes from a term which literally means narrowness. When used figuratively as in this verse, in distresses speaks of sets of stressful circumstances in the sense of in difficulties, in anguishes, or in troubles.

II Corinthians 6:5 In stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labours, in watchings, in fastings.

Verse 5 continues the thought of Paul's conduct of his ministry with six additional prepositional phrases, all of which begin with in and all of which are examples of the all things mentioned in verse 4 in which Paul approved himself as a minister of God.

In stripes refers to the many sudden hard blows or strokes Paul received when he was beaten with something such as a whip.

In imprisonments is in prisons.

In tumults speaks of situations which were unsettled and is understood in the sense of in disturbances.

Tumults possibly refers to riots which resulted from Paul's preaching.

In labours speaks of the many burdensome activities in the sense of works or toils in which Paul engaged and emphasizes the weariness which resulted from them. A second meaning of this word refers to a state of discomfort or distress in the sense of troubles or difficulties.

In watchings suggests in sleepless nights.

In fastings speaks of experiences of being without sufficient food or of going hungry. These fastings may have been voluntary or forced upon Paul because he had nothing to eat.

CONCLUSION:

Our lives as servants of the Lord must be consistent with our message. We must demonstrate with our lives that the gospel really works. If we don't, we are a bad advertisement for Christianity.

We need to be very careful to be studying the Word of God and obeying it both implicitly and explicitly and confessing sin whenever and wherever it occurs, and God will bless our service for Him.