Saturday, November 14, 2009

Sober Second Thoughts


How many can identify with this observation?

In the early days of the Christian walk, I was greatly interested in the impressions derived from Paul's First Letter to the Corinthians. God's kind of wisdom. The indwelling Holy Ghost. Marriage and divorce. Warnings against unbelief. The right approach to the sacrament of Communion. The spiritual gifts of discernment, of utterance, of miraculous power and healing. The best kind of love. The mystery of bodily resurrection.

In later years I found myself turning more frequently to Paul's Second Letter to the Corinthians. The benefit of trials. Godly compassion and help. The fullness of our second birth. Our call to be ambassadors of reconciliation for God. The challenge to remain unspotted from the world. The likelihood of reproach for Christ's name's sake. The constant need for godly repentance. The grace of giving. The right state of mind for spiritual warfare. The danger of self-confidence and the rich equipment brought by our trials. The realization that credentials of ministry are not man-made.

I like what Matthew Henry says on the First Chapter of that Second Letter:

We are encouraged to come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need. The Lord is able to give peace to the troubled conscience, and to calm the raging passions of the soul. These blessings are given by him, as the Father of his redeemed family. It is our Saviour who says, Let not your heart be troubled. All comforts come from God, and our sweetest comforts are in him. He speaks peace to souls by granting the free remission of sins; and he comforts them by the enlivening influences of the Holy Spirit, and by the rich mercies of his grace. He is able to bind up the broken-hearted, to heal the most painful wounds, and also to give hope and joy under the heaviest sorrows. The favours God bestows on us, are not only to make us cheerful, but also that we may be useful to others. He sends comforts enough to support such as simply trust in and serve him. If we should be brought so low as to despair even of life, yet we may then trust God, who can bring back even from death. Their hope and trust were not in vain; nor shall any be ashamed who trust in the Lord. Past experiences encourage faith and hope, and lay us under obligation to trust in God for time to come. And it is our duty, not only to help one another with prayer, but in praise and thanksgiving, and thereby to make suitable returns for benefits received. Thus both trials and mercies will end in good to ourselves and others.

(Taken from "Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary on the Whole Bible")

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