THANKSGIVING IS ROOTED IN GOD’S FAITHFULNESS AND FOCUSES ON THE GIFTS OF GOD’S GRACE IN OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST
[THREE EXPRESSIONS OF PAUL’S THANKSGIVING FOR THE CORINTHIAN BELIEVERS –
ALL ROOTED IN THE FAITHFULNESS OF GOD]
Thankfulness for God’s grace – in our own life and in the life of our fellow believers – should be the constant refrain on our lips. The Apostle Paul reminds these conflicted Corinthian saints of the blessings of God’s grace (past, present and future) in association with the Lord Jesus Christ. Our assurance of continued participation in this privileged family relationship is based not on our own performance but on the faithfulness of God – the one who sovereignly and effectively called us into fellowship with His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.
I. (:4) FIRST EXPRESSION OF PAUL’S THANKSGIVING:
APPRECIATING PAST RECEPTION OF THE GIFT OF GOD’S GRACE – GIVEN IN CHRIST JESUS
A. Looking Upwards — Consistent Emphasis on Thanksgiving
“I thank my God always”
Paul starts off almost every letter with this customary tone of thanksgiving. No one can perform this function of giving thanks for us. We are personally responsible to offer up thanksgiving on a continual basis to our God. This tone is not conditioned on our external circumstances but on the greatness and goodness of our gracious God.
B. Looking Outwards — Conflicted Corinthians Still the Object of Thanksgiving
Paul has much to say to them in the way of correction. But their genuine reception of the gospel and union with Jesus Christ makes them first and foremost objects of thanksgiving and participants in mutual fellowship.
C. Looking Inwards – Critical Spiritual Resource
“for the grace of God”
All of the fruit of changed lives flows from God’s grace operating in our heart.
Herries: Grace is divine favor given by God to His children. In 1 Cor. Paul speaks of grace as a power given by God to the believer that enables him to live the Christian life.
Bill Gothard: Grace is a dynamic power or desire given by God to help you do things His way.
D. Looking Backwards to Their Conversion
“which was given you”
No place for pride; no allowance for division; no personal merit or reliance on one’s abilities or achievements
E. Focusing on Christ
“in Christ Jesus”
Every spiritual blessing we enjoy flows to us in association with Christ Jesus. He is both the Gift and the Giver. He is our Savior and our very life that we now share.
II. (:5-7A) SECOND EXPRESSION OF PAUL’S THANKSGIVING: APPLYING PRESENT SUFFICIENT RESOURCES OF THE GIFTS OF GOD’S GRACE – HAVING BEEN ENRICHED IN CHRIST JESUS
A. Overall Spiritual Enrichment in Association with Christ
“that in everything you were enriched in Him”
You lack nothing that you need for spiritual success and fellowship
Herries: One of the problems of the Christian life is an Inferiority Complex — this is caused by one thing only = Comparison
B. Two Specific Areas of Spiritual Enrichment
1. In All Speech
Just as Christ came into this world as the pre-existent Word (logos) and fully revealed God, believers can both evangelize and edify with the various gifts of utterance in communicating spiritual truth
2. In All Knowledge
Believers are not looking for some new esoteric knowledge that would only puff up, but need to be reminded of the heart of the gospel message regarding our union with Christ in His death, burial and resurrection. This experiential knowledge that focuses on our relationship with Christ is mocked as foolishness by the Greeks, but is sufficient for our spiritual growth and vitality.
C. Changed Lives Confirm the Validity of the Gospel Proclamation
“even as the testimony concerning Christ was confirmed in you”
D. Application to Sphere of Spiritual Gifts – Assurance of Sufficiency
“so that you are not lacking in any gift”
Therefore, the Corinthians should not feel inadequate and be susceptible to grasping after other so-called impressive gifts that have nothing to do with their enrichment and edification associated with their conversion to Christianity.
III. (:7B-8) THIRD EXPRESSION OF PAUL’S THANKSGIVING: ANTICIPATING FUTURE REVELATION OF JESUS CHRIST –
THE CHANNEL OF GOD’S GRACE AND THE GOAL OF OUR CHARACTER TRANSFORMATION
A. Keep Your Eyes on the Goal
“awaiting eagerly the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ”
B. Keep Your Confidence in Ultimate Christlikeness
“who will also confirm you to the end, blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ”
IV. (:9) ANCHORING ONE’S CONFIDENCE IN GOD’S FAITHFULNESS – UNITED WITH JESUS CHRIST
A. Our Guarantee of Perseverance in the Faith
“God is faithful”
B. Our Family Fellowship
“through whom you were called into fellowship with His Son”
C. Our Lord and Savior
“Jesus Christ our Lord”