“The Work of Restoration” (2 Corinthians 13:1-14)

Like me, I’m sure you are all rather sick of the political environment in which we live with endless investigations that merely breed more investigations. A phrase we always hear is that “there needs to be an investigation to get to the bottom of this.”

Paul is saying to the Corinthians in this final chapter that he is coming to visit them and that there is going to be forthright conversation and accountability … and the end result will be that the truth of all things – Paul’s credentials and life, their lifestyles and values, etc. – will all be “gotten to the bottom” so to speak. It might hurt during the process, but the results were going to be good. God’s power would be at work.

In the second paragraph, the phrase “Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves” is usually understood by interpreters to be in the sense of a self-examination about the reality of their salvation – theologically-speaking, their positional standing as either true believers or falsely thinking they were saved. More likely it has to do with sanctification – testing themselves to see if they were truly living in a way that exemplified the life of Christ within. That is how they certainly should be living. This is a good test, one that should lead toward corrective modifications.

And Paul moves on to speaking about what was his highest hope as a result of his coming and whatever painful process may ensue: restoration. He desired to see them in right relationship with God, with each other, and with he himself. It would take work and intentional effort, no doubt. And thus he comes right out and says that, even before he arrives, they should “Strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace.”  I like that!  Could we just go ahead and use that as a new purpose statement at Tri-State Fellowship?  Let’s head that way!

So, did it work in Corinth?  We don’t know from the letter, but we do know from a passage in Romans that they did work through this process successfully and arrive at a good place as a church community. He spent three months in Corinth during which time he wrote the Romans letter. And in 15:23,24 he said, “But now that there is no more place for me to work in these regions, and since I have been longing for many years to visit you, I plan to do so when I go to Spain.”  The Corinthian situation had been successfully dealt with. Restoration achieved.

The work of living together in faith in the church is one that is never fully done. We never completely arrive. There is a continual need to spur one another along toward godliness. There may be some difficult seasons, but if the desire to always work actively toward being in restored relationships is sought, we can successfully deal with our “issues.”  Yes, we got issues, but we’ve got better answers!

2 Corinthians 13:1 – This will be my third visit to you. “Every matter must be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.” [Deut. 19:15] 2 I already gave you a warning when I was with you the second time. I now repeat it while absent: On my return I will not spare those who sinned earlier or any of the others, 3 since you are demanding proof that Christ is speaking through me. He is not weak in dealing with you, but is powerful among you. 4 For to be sure, he was crucified in weakness, yet he lives by God’s power. Likewise, we are weak in him, yet by God’s power we will live with him in our dealing with you.

5 Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test? 6 And I trust that you will discover that we have not failed the test. 7 Now we pray to God that you will not do anything wrong—not so that people will see that we have stood the test but so that you will do what is right even though we may seem to have failed. 8 For we cannot do anything against the truth, but only for the truth. 9 We are glad whenever we are weak but you are strong; and our prayer is that you may be fully restored. 10 This is why I write these things when I am absent, that when I come I may not have to be harsh in my use of authority—the authority the Lord gave me for building you up, not for tearing you down.

11 Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice! Strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you.

12 Greet one another with a holy kiss. 13 All God’s people here send their greetings.

14 May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.