The Holy Kiss of Christian Peace

The Holy Kiss of Christian Peace
Covenant Words
The Holy Kiss of Christian Peace

Jun 30 2024 | 00:46:25

Episode June 30, 2024 00:46:25

Show Notes

2 Corinthians 13:11-14


Pastor Christopher Chelpka

View Full Transcript

Episode Transcript

[00:00:04] Let's pray and ask God to bless the reading and preaching of his word. [00:00:11] Almighty God, we ask that as you speak to us now through your word, that you would be active and present in our hearts and that you would be reviving us, that we might walk in your light, that we might be lights to the world and to one another. Lord, we ask that as we come to your word, that you would give us the ability to pay attention, to listen, to seek, to understand. [00:00:40] We ask that you would keep us from temptation, that you would deliver us from evil and the evil one. Lord, we ask that you would help us to hear with ears to hear, and that you would be with me as I preached. Lord, we pray this in Jesus name. Amen. [00:00:59] All right, please remain standing and let's turn to God's word. In two Corinthians, chapter 13. The last few verses there, eleven through 14. [00:01:18] So two Corinthians, chapter 1311 through 14. [00:01:39] Here we come to the end of Paul's letter. [00:01:44] Finally, brothers, rejoice, aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace, and the God of love and peace will be with you. [00:01:58] Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the saints greet you. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. [00:02:10] You may be seated. [00:02:28] Sometimes in life, it is good and wise to have complicated, in depth conversations, winding, meandering conversations where you cover lots of topics and you move through various things. [00:02:48] And sometimes it's good to just say things, really simply to get right to the point. [00:02:56] And as a former pastor of mine pointed out about this passage, Paul's doing what we typically do in our goodbyes. They're to the point, right? [00:03:10] They say the things, the last few things we want to say right before somebody gets in the car or goes somewhere. [00:03:17] See you later. [00:03:19] Have a good trip. Drive safe. [00:03:23] He's doing something similar here at the end of two Corinthians, and he calls us to a very particular thing. [00:03:32] He calls us, I think, to a kind of reaction and a kind of life in light of some things he's been saying. [00:03:41] So obviously, I'm not going to go back and preach all of second corinthians right now. But to summarize just one quick thing and remind you, Paul's been saying some pretty tough stuff, some really hard pointed things, and not to the whole church, sometimes to the whole church. But he has in his sights a very particular group, people, these super apostles who have been causing all kinds of problems and leading people astray, people who have been attacking Paul, attacking the ministry of Jesus Christ through the apostles, attacking all kinds of core, fundamental aspects of the gospel and who Jesus is and what he's doing in the world right now through his ministry, they have been attacking these things, and Paul has been correcting that with all kinds of arguments and points and things like that. He's called, he's recognized the fact that when he comes to them again, we talked about this last time, he might have to treat them severely if there's not repentance, if there's not change. [00:04:49] We've had a whole discussion and understanding about church discipline last time and how difficult that may be and what our response is to it. And so now we come to this passage. After all of that, Paul is closing his letters. He said what he's wanted to say, and now he calls us to a particular kind of reaction. He calls them to a certain kind of reaction, but us as well. Whenever we receive the discipline of the Lord, whenever we hear words that are tough to hear. [00:05:22] And what is that reaction? [00:05:24] He begins this way in verse eleven. Finally, brothers, rejoice. [00:05:32] Now, he's called them to be sorrowful, right? He's called them to study their hearts, to test their hearts. He's called them to be wise and discerning. He's called them to act in particular ways, but now he calls them to rejoice. [00:05:51] There's a second aspect of that which I would summarize this way. [00:05:55] He calls them to join together, to rejoice and to join together. The opposites of this might be to be crushed and to separate, to hear the hard words and just get out of town, leave, give up. [00:06:12] It's different when we receive the discipline of the Lord, when we have things pointed out in our lives that are not good. And these kind of, we have this choice to make as individuals and as a body. [00:06:27] Will we get mad and stomp our feet and feel upset and crushed and just leave, or will we rejoice? Hard thing to do, perhaps, and be unified. [00:06:41] And how do you do that? How do you do these things that he's talking about? Aiming for restoration, comforting one another, agreeing with one another, living in peace, that's a tough bill to fill when there's so much difficulty sometimes that can go on in the midst of a congregation and a lot of trouble that stirred up in our own hearts. [00:07:05] One way we might summarize his point is a phrase I like to use, which is take your discipline well. [00:07:14] There's a way that you can be disciplined you know, in for whatever, you know, personally, there's a self discipline, right? Externally, a parent, a boss, perhaps a mentor, a teacher, someone who's discipling you. [00:07:32] There are ways that which we can discipline, be disciplined and not take it very well. [00:07:39] Right? Let's just take self discipline, for example, so we can take out other people and the complications of that. So you decide, I'm going to do x, right? I'm going to work out, I'm going to go to the gym, or I'm going to go for a run. And whatever it is you decide to do, and then the other part of you, this double minded part of you goes, I don't want to do that. That's awful. Or maybe you do it and you go, that was terrible, and I hated it, and I'm never going to do that again. Right. There's this way in which we can react negatively to discomfort and things in our bodies and our souls that are uncomfortable. [00:08:21] And in other people, when it comes to other people, we can also get really mad and prideful. How dare you tell me? Why would you say that? You're just trying to hurt me. All these kinds of things. [00:08:33] Paul is calling us to something else. We'll think about this more as we go on. He's calling us to take our discipline well, to learn to forgive and to remember some things, to remember God's love and to remember this. This is key. [00:08:51] That repentance, turning away from our sin, turning to righteousness through faith in Christ. Repentance leads to something. [00:09:01] It leads to joy. [00:09:04] It really does. [00:09:06] A lot of times we get tricked and we get fooled and we make this mistake that we think, well, when I have something pointed out in me, something that's wrong, the best thing to do is to hide from it, to ignore it, to run away from it, to downplay it because it hurts and I don't like it. And it shows me that I'm not all that I thought I was. [00:09:30] And one of the hard things about scripture is the Bible's constantly doing this. God is constantly undermining our pride, constantly coming into the core parts of our lives and shining a light and making all this yuck known. [00:09:47] And not just yuck in a sense of like, that's kind of annoying, but sometimes really horrid, terrible things that are inside of our hearts, things that we wouldn't want anybody ever to know. And he's there shining a light on it that can be uncomfortable, to put it mildly, in our flesh, in our sinfulness. We hate that. We want to get away from it. We hide from it. But God, in his love, uses this light in another way. [00:10:21] He uses this light in a way that not only shines in the darkness, but overcomes the darkness and brings to us not just understanding of our sin, but sometimes he works us in works in us in a way that doesn't just bring understanding, but it brings life and a love for him, and a love for change and repentance and godliness, a love that says, thanks for showing that to me. I don't want that anymore. Help me, O Lord. [00:10:56] And that ought to be the longing of our hearts when we love the Lord. And we see not only his power to point out the things that are wrong in our personal lives, but also the life of our church, the lives of our individual church, the life of our regional church, and the church as a whole all across the world. When the Lord points these things out, he's doing it in a way that calls us to repentance, and repentance that leads. There's this hope here, repentance that leads to joy. And that's why Paul can say what he says. [00:11:31] Finally, brothers, rejoice because that's where repentance leads. How so? Well, in part because when we stay in our sin, all the effects of sin continue. And the effects of sin are nothing to rejoice about. The effects of sin in our lives and in the lives of our church are what slavery, bondage, addiction, guilt, shame, the hurting of other people, more harm to ourselves, right? When we go against God and go against his word, it's like going against the grain of life. It's difficult. It's hard. You get a bunch of splinters in your hands, in your heart. It's awful. [00:12:18] We hurt other people. [00:12:21] And then when we try to take this sort of. These poor construction methods and build houses and kingdoms and all these sorts of things that we try to do on top of things that are other than God, things that are apart from him, and things that are based on our own weak righteousness, our own sins, it all falls apart. [00:12:42] And so we find ourselves over and over and over again in these difficult situations where we say, ah, things are falling apart again, again, because of our sin and the sins of other people. [00:12:54] That's what happens when we hold onto our sin. There's nothing to rejoice about. Maybe momentarily. We say, I felt nice. But we all know that it takes how many milliseconds right before the guilt and the shame and the consequences and the miseries all to start pouring in. [00:13:14] It's awful repentance, however, turning away from our sin, and not just turning away from it, but finding forgiveness of it, the removal of guilt, the removal of shame, and the empowering work of God in our lives, that's something to rejoice about. Because now, instead of all of that sin and misery, all of that stuff that was going on inside, all the of it that are shooting out into the world, and then also from other people back at us, that starts to get cleaned, it starts to change. [00:13:50] And in fact, it starts to change in such a way that even some of the most awful things that can happen, God then uses for our salvation. [00:13:59] The cross of Christ is the best example of this. This awful moment in which the Son of God was nailed to a crosse, shamed, humiliated, betrayed, all these things. God used that for the salvation of his people. [00:14:17] It's amazing. [00:14:19] This is what God does, and this is how powerful God is able to work. So why do we rejoice? [00:14:26] Well, because when we turn in repentance to the Lord, we obtain forgiveness. [00:14:31] How good it is to be forgiven. [00:14:35] We obtain restoration, renewed fellowship, freedom from slavery, freedom from double mindedness. The honor of Christ is uplifted. The purity of our witness, the brightness of our light, all of these things are increased. It's a lot to be happy about. It's a lot to rejoice in, because what is happening, we are obtaining something that is truly, truly good. [00:15:02] We know this. You can think of any one of these aspects of this list that I just listed for you. [00:15:08] Consider freedom from slavery some sin that you've been in bondage to for so long, over and over and over and again, all kinds of manipulation and lies and things like that, going along all around that ways in which you're hurting other people, all of that to be released from it, to have it let go, to find in Christ a freedom from those things that once held you, that's worth rejoicing over. [00:15:41] Or imagine a conflict, right? You and another person, because of mutual sins, or maybe even just on one side, crashing, crashing, crashing against one another. How awesome it is to find restoration where you can look someone in the eye and give them a hug or a holy kiss, as Paul says, and you can say, we're together again. [00:16:08] Those of you who have gone through difficult relationships and have had those repaired, you know what I'm talking about. [00:16:16] And we experience this all the time, sometimes in minor ways, sometimes in big ways. And for those of you who are longing in your hearts for that kind of relationship, restoration in some sort of area of your life. You know what I'm talking about, too, because the longing of your heart is for that. You know this good that you want to obtain. And that's what the Lord promises when we turn to him in repentance. [00:16:43] There is repentance leads to this rejoicing. [00:16:50] Well, let's continue on and think briefly through these other things that he mentions. [00:16:55] What else does he call us to? [00:16:58] Well, out of the strength of God's work in us, he calls us first to aim for restoration. [00:17:07] So if we are called after discipline to rejoice, knowing that repentance leads to joy, the other thing we are called to do is to come together instead of separating from one another. And one of the ways we do this is aiming for restoration. [00:17:24] How do we do this? Well, we do it in a whole bunch of ways. One way is we don't hold things over hold things over other people. [00:17:33] We aim for the betterment of their future instead of constantly holding them and belittling them and tearing them down with the past. [00:17:46] A good example of this is Jesus with Peter. [00:17:50] What did Peter do when the Lord was captured, when he was taken to a false trial and then eventually to the cross? Peter, who had previously proclaimed his love in these very strong public ways, then denies his own lord, the Lord who was saving him three times. [00:18:18] Three times. [00:18:22] Well, what does the Lord do after his resurrection? Right? He comes to Peter and he creates a moment that allows for restoration. [00:18:36] Certainly Peter deserved all kinds of things. Rejection forever, right? Long speeches berating about how terrible it is to reject the Lord, which it is. [00:18:52] But what does the Lord do? [00:18:55] He restores him. He asks him some short, pointed questions. Do you love me? Peter answers, yes, you know that I love you. And he gives him and he says, go feed my sheep. [00:19:10] And Peter does. And the Lord stays with him for all of his life. [00:19:16] This is what the Lord does with us. [00:19:19] We break our relationship with him and he restores us. [00:19:25] He restores us. Can you imagine, Christians, as you think about your own life in Christ? Take a moment and imagine what would it would have been like where you would currently be if the Lord had not restored you, if he had just left you broken, if he had left you in your own misery, if he had left you in all of your trials with only you to fend for yourself. [00:19:53] How wonderful it is. The Lord restores us. He calls us to give that to one another. Now, sometimes that's outside of our control, isn't it? Sometimes we can't read full restoration with someone. And that's why he gives us this command, he says, to aim for restoration. [00:20:12] This is not just a mild intention like kind of hope for it and do your best. It's a serious intention, a serious goal that we take, but it's a goal that relies on the Lord that ultimately we say, I can't control other people, but I can aim for this thing and do it in the Lord and trust him with the results. [00:20:36] And number two, comfort one another. [00:20:39] That's how this letter begins. [00:20:41] If we go back. Let's read a little bit. At the beginning of two corinthians. [00:20:47] In two corinthians, chapter one, verse three, Paul says this, blessed be the God and father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all of our affliction so that we may be able to comfort those who are in affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. [00:21:14] That's pretty clear, right? The Lord comforts us in all of our afflictions. We take that comfort we have received from him, and then we do what he says there and what he calls us to at the end here, to comfort one another. [00:21:29] How do we show that? How do we do that? Practically, we do it by listening without interrupting, by trying to truly hear people and hear their hearts. We provide support, we provide food, rides, these kinds of things. Sometimes we provide distraction. Right. Have you ever been in a difficult moment and then somebody tells a joke that seems sort of like, that's a weird moment to tell a joke, but you're kind of thankful for it because it just lifts the mood. It distracts you from your own troubles. That's a way that we bring comfort. Sometimes another way we bring comfort is through reminders. [00:22:11] All of us know that God is good and that God loves us and that our hope is set on him and the heavenly things that are to come. But we also all need reminders. [00:22:24] I need them all the time, and I'm blessed when the people around me, my family, my friends, come to me in tough moments, say, hey, remember to look to the Lord. Don't forget, Christ has done it. All right. [00:22:42] It's true. These reminders bring us comfort. It's really in our own pride that we say, well, once I've heard it once, I never need to hear it again. Not true. Let's just let that go and be encouraged by the comfort that we receive. And when someone brings us comfort, let's accept it instead of pushing it off and pushing them away. Let's see those as opportunities. Let's see how the Lord is working through others. [00:23:09] Let me mention one more thing. [00:23:12] In another way we bring comfort is I mentioned bringing distraction, bringing food, listening, a listening ear, bringing reminders. Just one more. [00:23:24] Another way I think we can bring comfort to one another is bringing beautiful things to people. [00:23:29] Reminder of God's goodness in the world. This is a reason when we take someone, a meal who's struggling and hurting, we try to take something good, try to take something tasty. [00:23:44] I've noticed that when it comes to funerals and things like that, it's become very popular to say in lieu of flowers, support this or that cause. And there's a great heart in that. I wouldn't discourage anyone from doing that in your own families or something like that, that money often can go to very, very important purposes. But I also don't want to undermine the goodness of flowers. [00:24:11] It's really nice to get flowers. I like getting flowers. [00:24:16] You like getting flowers. They're beautiful. They're part of God's creation. To remember that sometimes when we are giving someone a card to draw a little drawing on the side, to make something a little bit nice, these things are meaningful and they're ways in which we share the goodness that the Lord has given to us with others, and they bring comfort. [00:24:41] All these kind, these are just different ways. And one way we can think about how to do this is by listening to what the person needs. Going back to that, another way we can decide what's the best thing to do and what's the best time to do it is by thinking about this. Going back to the beginning of two corinthians, how has God comforted you? [00:25:07] Try to think about that. Think about it really specifically, what are ways that God has brought you comfort in your life and then pass those on to others. That's what second corinthians one says, isn't it? Perhaps we can do that. Perhaps we can think about in really specific ways, how has God brought me comfort and encouragement? How can I pass that on to others? [00:25:37] My wife and I have a friend who occasionally will just go around all day saying if somebody asks her how she's doing, she'll say, great. And he says, oh, really? Why so good? She says, the Lord could come back today. [00:25:57] And you go, well, yeah, that is true. [00:26:00] Right? But she means it and she says it. [00:26:04] And there's something really wonderful about that. It's a reminder, it's an encouragement. You find comfort in it. What are you going to do when you hear something like that? Hold it all to yourself or maybe say it to someone else, share it to someone else. [00:26:20] So many ways in which we can live out these commands. Let's look at the next one. [00:26:25] Paul calls us to agree with one another. [00:26:29] I think this does not mean that we have to all think the same thing, especially the wrong thing. Right. The goal is not just agreement for agreement's sake. Right. We are to conform our thoughts to the word of God. [00:26:46] We are to take captive all of the things that we think, the things that are going on inside, and say, what does the word of God say about this? What does God want? [00:26:56] So that's important. That's the goal that we are getting to, but we ought to try and do this together. [00:27:03] There's this disposition, this attitude of trying to be agreeable, and perhaps it's seen best in contrast with being disagreeable. [00:27:14] Right. There's a way in which we can work toward agreement, not just by saying, well, yeah, I'll just believe whatever anybody says, but by working toward agreement. So, for example, again, listening, what is this person saying? What are they really saying? Maybe I can't agree with all of it, but can I agree with some of it? This is true even of people that have very, very opposed views to your own very opposed views. You can ask yourself, is there any part of this that's true? Is there any part that we can work on? [00:27:57] Another way we can come towards agreement is in debating. It's not simply by turning over and giving up and saying, well, I guess I just have to agree with people. No, if we're working towards agreement, that means getting the best ideas on the table, trying to listen to other sides, trying to be sharpened through conversation, being open to changing our own minds and trying to change others as we, you know, according to our best wisdom. [00:28:23] It means not trying to control people or letting ourselves be controlled, being frightened by other ideas and then pummeling people into submission. But it means talking, trusting that God is the God of truth, and truth will stand on its own. We don't need to defend his truth in such a way that if we don't defend it, it's going to all fall apart. God's going to be fine. [00:28:48] Right? But instead, we ought to seek to align ourselves to him and to his truth and talk to others about it, sharpening our own hearts, our own minds, doing that with others, not in a spirit of fear or intimidation or control, but in a spirit of peace. [00:29:07] Because we have peace. We rest in the truth of God. We rest in him. We know we don't know it all at least we should. [00:29:15] We know that there's mistakes and misinformed ideas and ignorance and sin, sometimes willful ignorance and problems in our thinking and in our minds and in our plans. We can humble ourselves before him. We can rest on the truth that he has given to us, and we can talk with one another, aiming to agree with one another. [00:29:42] Next he says, live in peace. This in some ways is a summary of all of these things. This is what happens when we do these things and live this life together. [00:29:53] I heard someone say this week, everybody wants peace. [00:29:57] We just don't know how to get it. [00:30:00] He's telling us how to get it. He's telling us what. This looks like part of our problem. We just don't really want peace. We'd rather just have our own way and have the things that we want, or we work towards false peace. [00:30:15] But God calls us to live in true peace, and he calls us to live with find that peace not by controlling other people or simply rolling over and giving ourselves over to other people, but by giving ourselves over to goddess. Look how he is defined and called here in the next section, or in the next phrase. [00:30:41] He is called the God of love and peace. [00:30:45] Paul says, he will be with us as we do these things. He will be with us. [00:30:54] Sometimes the spirit of God in the scriptures talks about God's love and his peace as the cause of our obedience. And that's absolutely true. He is the one that affects us and changes us so that we can become different people, so that we can change and be loving and being peaceful. [00:31:17] And sometimes the spirit of the Lord talks about the Lord's love and his peace and his presence with us as the effect of these things, as the effect of the things that we do. Sometimes it's the cause of our reactions and our actions, and sometimes it's the result. [00:31:36] The analogy of a tree, this is one I relied on heavily at family camps. I'm sorry to those who just heard this a lot, but it's scriptural, right? The analogy of the tree is helpful here, as a tree pulls in nutrients and things from water and the ground and the sunlight. This is how we live or how a tree lives. We live similarly in the Lord. We live because of him. We are not self sustaining and self sufficient. We draw on him in order to live. The Bible uses these images of a tree or a vine, right apart from me. Jesus says, you can do nothing. You must be united to me. You must draw your source and your life for me. [00:32:22] Well, the same is not only true of how we live, but also of what we produce. Right? We produce things because of the Lord and because of his being with us, his guiding us, our abiding in him. [00:32:38] And as we produce these things, there's kind of this cycle that happens. God's love and peace is with us as we do these things, and it's a comfort to us in this way. [00:32:50] It's sort of like when Jesus says, regarding the great commission, he says, all authority and in heaven and earth has been given to me. Go therefore, and make disciples of all nations, because the God of love and peace is with us as we do these things and is the source of these things and is the end of these things. [00:33:11] As I said, maybe too many times now we can put our confidence in him. [00:33:19] I'm not aiming to be redundant, but to impress this on your hearts that he is our life, he is our hope. And that's why Paul ends in this way with verse 14. Don't worry, I won't skip over the kissing with verse 14. [00:33:37] The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. [00:33:44] It's our triune Lord and his blessing us with his grace, with his love, with his fellowship. That's how we live. It's the only way we can live. And as we live in that way, we do truly live. [00:34:03] Well, what about that? Kissing? [00:34:06] Right. So what does Paul say? He says, verse twelve, greet one another with a holy kiss and greet all the saints. All the saints greet you. [00:34:20] Now, kissing, in both the Hebrew israelite culture and in the greco roman culture, was pretty much limited to families, much like it is today. [00:34:36] This was limited to families and often was of the same gender. [00:34:41] So sons to fathers, fathers to sons, sisters to mothers, these kinds of things, sometimes parents to children, this kind of stuff. [00:34:53] So Paul is saying something that's kind of shocking, I think, to us and perhaps to the Corinthians as well. He says to greet each other with a holy kiss, which I think is essentially to say, treat one another as family members. [00:35:11] He's already said this in verse eleven when he says, finally, brothers and sisters is included in this greek word. Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice. [00:35:23] Paul has this frame of mind. Instead of a bunch of fractured individuals coming together and just mad at each other, he calls us to live together, family, to even greet one another as a family when we see one another, to greet one another in love. [00:35:46] One article I read had this helpful point about this, which was this, you know, in our culture, all touching, not all touching. A lot of touching has become, unfortunately, like a lot of other things, hyper sexualized in such a way that a lot of us have been injured by touch, inappropriate touch. People touching us in ways that are totally inappropriate and immoral and wrong, that affect us really deeply and hurt us in significant ways. That's a problem. And there's other things that are going on in our culture that make touch a really a difficult thing. [00:36:29] What does Paul say? [00:36:31] He's transforming this particular act of kissing, and he calls us to a holy kiss, one that is considered in the context of a family and a family of the Lord, a sanctified kiss, a kiss that is given not just to the person, but in a way, as an act of worship to the Lord. [00:36:55] This happens, of course, not just with a kiss, but with a hug, a pat on the back, a squeeze of the hand, a rub of the shoulder. These are important, good things. [00:37:08] Another problem, partly due to the first problem I mentioned that we have, is that because of these things, some of us don't receive much touch at all. [00:37:21] Some of us can be very, very lonely. [00:37:25] We find ourselves separated from people and families that are not good, people around, people that have hurt us, and we find ourselves afraid. [00:37:38] As a christian family, as the church, we have an opportunity to bless one another in a lot of different ways, including the physical touch. [00:37:50] If we honor the Lord and honor the things that he has given to us, honor the ways in which he is working on us, we have an opportunity to treat one another in all aspects of our lives, our time, our money, the way we touch one another in ways that bring honor to him, ways that show love to one another and give to people something that perhaps for some, they've never experienced in this world before. [00:38:17] An act of genuine love. A touch that is not meant to control or manipulate or hurt, but a touch that is loving and caring and non demanding and non weird. [00:38:34] You know what I mean? [00:38:38] This is because of the Lord's love in us. [00:38:42] It's an amazing thing, isn't it? [00:38:47] I think in a way, verse 13 is connected to verse twelve. When he says, all the saints greet you. [00:38:53] This is maybe a little bit of a guess, but I wonder if he's saying something like we say, when we say, give them a hug for me, right? If you're, you know, let's say traveling on a trip and you call home and you say, you know, give the kids a hug for me. Right? I think Paul might be saying something similar here. He's saying, greet all the saints, greet you. In other words, recognize that you're a part of this, something bigger. And we have an opportunities to show this love to one another. [00:39:32] All right, let's finish with verse 14. Now the Lord says the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. [00:39:46] This is the pronouncement of a blessing. It draws back from the priesthood of the Old Testament where the priesthoods pronounce a blessing on the people of God. And then a really important thing to know here is this blessing is not a wish, it's not a hope. It's not just like wouldn't it be nice if it is the word of God being pronounced and being active in the life of his people. [00:40:15] It's almost like a command except we're not commanding the Lord. The Lord is speaking through his servant to do this thing. It's this action that's happening, not just a desire that's being expressed. [00:40:34] So he says, the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you. [00:40:40] The grace, a reminder that all of these things that we have, this life that he calls us to live together even after being fractured and struggling and having trouble within church and in our own lives. This grace that he gives to us is a grace that is free. [00:41:01] It's not merited by us. It's not earned by us. It couldn't be. Look at the life of the church in Corinth. Look at the life of the church in Tucson. We have a hard time. The Lord doesn't look at us. Tally everything up and say, all right, pretty good, I'll give you x percent of the reward or no. He just gives himself freely to us through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ. This is how we have these things. [00:41:29] We have these things because God gives them freely to us what we have. We could put it this way. I'm drawing on language from Turretin here. He talks about the grace of the Lord as the acquisition and the love of God as the. The destination. [00:41:48] Jesus says in his priestly prayer before he ascends to the Father that we would abide in his love even as he and the father share love. [00:42:00] The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ gives to us this abiding in the love of God. It's how we come to know God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. [00:42:12] And in that we then have the fellowship of the Holy Spirit. [00:42:21] This is how we come to experience these things. How we come to know these things. Apart from the Spirit uniting us from Christ, we'd still be dead in our trespasses and sins. [00:42:33] But he is the Lord and giver of life. [00:42:37] These things are true and they have been true and they continue to be true. Beloved, when the Lord blesses you, receive that blessing and put your faith in it. When the Lord tells you that his grace is with you, that his love is with you, that his fellowship is with you, believe it and receive it. Receive it with open hands and open hearts. Receive it knowing that he's at work amongst us in some of these particular ways that we've talked about and in many, many more. [00:43:11] And he does it because of these things, because of his grace, because of his love and because of his desire to have fellowship with us. [00:43:21] When we are disciplined, when we see the things that are going on in our lives or in our lives as a church, let us not become sullen and upset and angry and then just leave and stomp away. [00:43:36] But instead let us look to the Lord, see what he's doing and find hope in him. Rejoicing even as we repent, as we believe and as we come together in these ways. [00:43:49] And let's not do this just as individuals, but together. For we are the body of Christ and he is our head. Let's pray. [00:44:00] Our heavenly Father, we thank you for your blessing on us. [00:44:05] We thank you for the initial blessings that you give to us when you first regenerate our hearts and you draw us to you. What a mysterious thing this is. We know that our salvation is not born out of our own strength, our own power left to ourselves. We have nothing but sinfulness. [00:44:24] But in you, Lord, we find life and we find it abundantly. [00:44:30] Not only, Lord, in our initial regeneration as we turn away from our sins, as we put our faith in Christ, in our repentance as well. [00:44:41] But continuing on, Lord, you continue to bless us. You continue to pour out your grace on us, giving us those things that we do not deserve, continuing to sanctify us and grow us so that we might bless others, so that we might honor you. [00:44:58] We ask that you would continue to do this, Lord, in the life of our own church. Lord, we ask that you would help us to rejoice to repent of our sins and to rejoice in the freedom of forgiveness, rejoice in the removal of shame, rejoice in the honor of Christ, rejoice in the glory of Goddesse, rejoiced in the reconciliation that we have with you and with one another and in that spirit of joy, Lord, we ask that you would help us to work and to act for the continual restoration and comfort and agreement and peace that we might have one another for our own benefit, of course. And for the glory of your name. Lord, we see the ways in which you have worked in this congregation, and we ask that you would continue to do that. Keep us from the danger that is ourselves, the danger that is in the world. And the danger of the evil one who prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking one to devour. [00:45:59] Help us, lord, not to fall into pits of our own making. Keep us from sin and help us to do that by living together in fellowship with one another. Living together, walking together in the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. In the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit. Lord, we ask that you would be with us all. And we pray this in Jesus name. Amen.

Other Episodes