Lives Drawn by the Exceeding Grace of God
They glorify God for the obedience of your confession to the gospel of Christ, and for your liberal sharing with them and all men, and by their prayer for you, who long for you because of the exceeding grace of God in you. (2Co_9:13-14)
The church at Corinth became a vivid illustration of what the grace of God can do in lives. God’s grace was so mightily at work among them that believers in other parts of the church world were drawn by the exceeding grace of God: “who long for you because of the exceeding grace of God in you.”
Paul’s first letter to them certainly revealed that the saints in Corinth were experiencing many problems. Yet, his second letter showed that they were responding to the convicting and transforming work of the Spirit of God. As the church at Corinth was growing in godliness, they were becoming a generous body of believers. They were learning to share with liberality that which the Lord had given to them. This process was being exemplified to them by other churches in the region of Macedonia. “Moreover, brethren, we make known to you the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia: that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded in the riches of their liberality” (2Co_8:1-2). The churches in Macedonia were burdened for the churches in Judea that were undergoing great material need. The amazing fact is that the Macedonian churches were very needy themselves (“in a great trial of affliction . . . their deep poverty”). The explanation for this burden of compassion in Macedonia was the grace of God at work. “We make known to you the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia.” God’s grace was stirring in them a concern for others and a willingness to share their limited material resources.
A similar work of God was occurring in Corinth, and it was impacting the saints in regions beyond. As other Christians looked at God’s grace operating in Corinth, they gave glory to God for their generosity. “They glorify God for the obedience of your confession to the gospel of Christ, and for your liberal sharing with them and all men.” As they prayed for the saints at Corinth, their hearts were drawn after them in great yearning: “by their prayer for you, who long for you.” When the grace of God is allowed to work deeply within followers of Jesus Christ, others develop a yearning to pray for them, to be with them, to communicate with them. They want to be impacted by the exceeding grace of God that has changed and enriched their lives.
Dear Lord of exceeding grace, I thank You for generously sharing the riches of Your grace with me. By Your grace, give me a generous heart towards others. Also, please flood my life with such fullness of grace that others will be drawn to learn more of Your exceeding grace, Amen.
e-Sword Study Bible
HOW THE SONG OF THE LORD BEGAN
“When the burnt offering began, the Song of the Lord began.” — 2Ch_29:27.
“They sing as it were a new Song before the Throne.” — Rev_14:3.
HEZEKIAH, AT the age of twenty-five, came to the throne, and set himself to reverse his father’s evil policy. The doors of the Temple were re-opened, and under his direction the Levites were commissioned to cleanse the desecrated courts of the rubbish and filth that had been allowed to accumulate. After eight days of strenuous labour, they were able to report that their work was successfully accomplished; that the altar of burnt-offering and the table of shewbread were ready for the renewal of their wonted service. It was good news, and in the early morning of a memorable day, the king, accompanied by his princes and officers of state, took part in a solemn service of re-dedication. Amid the tense expectancy of the vast congregation which had assembled, Hezekiah commanded that the burnt sacrifice should be offered; and “when the burnt-offering began, the song of the Lord began also.”
These ancient sacrifices have passed for ever. “Sacrifice and offering Thou dost not desire; mine ears hast Thou pierced (nailing me to Thy Cross); burnt-offering and sin-offering hast Thou not required. Then said I, Lo, I come, I delight to do Thy will, O my God!” To yield up one’s life to the Saviour, to surrender our lives for others for His sake, to maintain the steadfast resolve of self-sacrifice,—this surely fulfils the conception of the burnt-offering, which the king ordered that morning as the symbol of national devotion to the Will of God. Can we wonder that the Song of the Lord began also? Does not that same Song arise in every heart when the sacrifice of love and obedience begins?
It is the self-contained life that has made itself snug within its four walls, sound-proof, sorrow-proof, as it thinks, and love-proof, which is song-less and pitiable.
Our Lord said: “‘Whosoever shall lose his life for My sake shall find it.” That finding is the correlative and source of the “Song of the Lord.'” Unite thyself with Jesus on the Cross, and one day thou wilt find thyself sharing with Him the New Song of accomplished Redemption!
Give us loving and thankful hearts. May Thy mercies bind us like cords to the horns of the Altar. Let our whole nature be consecrated for Thine indwelling, and as the burnt-offering begins, may the Song of the Lord begin also in our hearts. AMEN.
From e-Sword Study Bible
Through the Eternal Spirit
Christ,…through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God — Heb_9:14
The Two Worlds
It is not likely, from the turn of the expression, that the writer is thinking of the Holy Spirit, and probably we shall get nearest to his meaning if we recall his outlook upon life. For him there were two worlds, one the visible world that lies around us with its fields and its oceans and its cities, with its splendors of the Jewish Temple; and then beyond that another world, invisible yet not necessarily distant, free from the relativities of space and time. To most of us the world we see is real, and the world we cannot see is but a shadow. To this writer the visible is shadow, and the unseen is the intense reality. Everything here that is bright and good and beautiful, even the ark, the altar and the Temple, are but copies of the realities beyond. John tells us he was in the isle that is called Patmos, and then he adds, “I was in the spirit.” There were two environments for him, and there are two environments for everybody. And the worth of life rests on the possibility of piercing through the visible environment into the realities beyond. To the author of Hebrews, that is what Jesus did for the common man and woman in the street. He lifted their lives out of the shadow-world into what this writer calls the world to come. And by the world to come he does not mean a world that is to come when life is over, but is to come, by the saving grace of God, into the midst of our shadow-life today.
Now when the writer thinks of the death of Christ, that eternal world was always in his view. All other sacrifices were in the shadow-world; this in the region of reality. When a lamb was offered upon a Jewish altar, that offered lamb was, as it were, a sacrament. It was a visible sign of something deeper. It was a hint of an invisible reality. But when Christ died, into this shadow-world there broke the great reality at last—the world to come came upon the cross. In this world are many different spirits. There are various spirits of selfishness and hate. In the eternal world one spirit reigns for ever—it is the spirit of self-forgetful love. And in the animating and triumphant spirit of the world that is ignorant of space and time our blessed Savior gave up His life on Calvary. All that inspires reality—all that constitutes its very heart, all that differentiates the world to come from the shadow-world of time and sense leapt into the light and shone into the eyes of lowly men when Christ offered Himself upon the cross.
Only in Christianity Does God Offer the Sacrifice
But even so we scarcely reach the depths of that most beautiful expression. For to the Oriental (however it be with us ) the word spirit was never an abstraction. Shining through the letters he saw God; it brought him into touch with the Divine; it was in God that there lay that innermost reality which we describe as the spirit of eternity. Now think again of the sacrifice of Christ. In every other religion that we know of it is man who gives the sacrifice. He goes to his herd and takes his bulls or goats, and in expiation he offers them to God. But the glory of our Christian faith is this, that there it is not man who gives the sacrifice. The giver of the offering is God. God so loved the world that He gave. Yes, dying upon the cross for us, Christ showed the reigning spirit of reality. But dying, He did even more than that—He showed that spirit in the heart of God. It was not to change that heart but to reveal it; not to gain but to display its love that our Lord died upon the tree. Through the eternal spirit, through that spirit which reigns where things are real, through that spirit which from all eternity has had its source and dwelling in the heart of God, our Lord offered Himself upon the cross.
The Freedom with Which Our Lord Died
Then blended with that, though it seem strange to us, is the thought of the freedom in which our Savior died. That great thought is never far away from the heart of this inspired writer. When we say that ours is a religion of the spirit, we do not only mean that it is spiritual. We mean that it moves in the region of the spirit, free from the chafing fetters of compulsion. And always, to New Testament writers, spirit conveys that atmosphere of liberty as of the wind that bloweth where it listeth. Now once again think of the death of Christ. Was it inevitable and compelled? Was our blessed Lord in the grip of cruel hands? Was He held in the resistless power of Rome? No, says our writer, and he says it passionately, returning again and again to the great thought, our Lord died in real and spiritual freedom. The cross was not repression. It was final, full, deliberate expression. It was not endured in the spirit of a slave—it was welcomed in the spirit of a Son. It was not borne in any grim necessity, but in the perfect freedom of a sonship that found its joy in doing the Father’s will. Picture the struggling and resisting beast dragged to the sacrifice of Jewish altars. Through compulsion it was haled to death. The cords of bondage were upon its horns. But Christ offered Himself through the eternal spirit—the free glad spirit of an eternal sonship—and that made all the difference in the world.