August 21, 2022       The Tenth Sunday after Trinity

also known as the Twelfth Sunday of the Pentecost Season

Souls…..Lost, Recovered, and Secured


In his excellent book, The Prodigal God, Timothy Keller looks beyond the common interpretation of that classic

Parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15) that focuses almost exclusively on the lostness of the younger brother ….and which serves as  today’s Gospel Lesson.  As Jesus shows us in the closing verses of the parable, the older brother also put himself out the fellowship of His father (and so, Spiritually-speaking, he was outside of the Father’s salvation).  A critical element of this parable, then, is that both the older brother and the younger brother were lost — just in different ways.

            Keller explains: “The hearts of the two brothers were the same. Both sons resented their father’s authority and sought ways of getting out from under it. They each wanted to get into a position in which they could tell the father what to do.  Each one, in other words, rebelled—but one did so by being very bad, and the other by being extremely good.  Both had alienated themselves from their father’s heart;  both were lost sons.”

            Here, then, is Jesus’ omniscient explanation of what’s wrong with us.   Nearly everyone defines sin as breaking a list of rules.    Jesus, though, shows us that someone who has violated virtually nothing on the list of moral misbehaviors can be every bit as spiritually lost as the most profligate, immoral person.    How?   Because sin is not just breaking the rules.   It is also putting yourself in the place of God as your Savior, and as the Lord and Judge over others – just like both of the sons, who sought to displace the authority of their father in their intent to do, say and feel as they wanted.     It didn’t work for them.   And it doesn’t work for us.

            That’s why the Father in the parable is actually the central figure;  (and he happens to serve as the representation of our Heavenly Father).  In fact, this parable – I think – would be best called “The Parable of the Waiting and Forgiving Father,” since the Father waits longingly for the younger son in order to forgive and reconcile himself to his son.   Then, he also seeks out the older, angry son who is resentful both of his brother and father.   The Father there reminds his older son that the younger brother is also HIS brother, someone to be loved, forgiven and to whom to be reconciled.             

            Notice also that in this parable the Father gives the younger son the freedom to disobey and depart from the family – although it breaks the Father’s heart.  This, Spiritually-speaking, represents the “limited free will” that God gave to Adam and Eve, and which He gives to us also.   He doesn’t give us the “freedom to chose” Him or to chose obedience (that our sinful, hostile hearts can’t possibly do – see Romans 8:7;    God instead graciously chooses us to be His children – see Ephesians 1:3-11).  Rather, God has given us the limited “freedom to disobey.”   Our Lord’s expectation for us is that we be perfect (Matthew 5:48; Leviticus 19:2), no ifs, ands, or buts about it.  We don’t get “pats on the back” for good behavior.   Another parable appropriate to this discussion is found in Luke 17:5-10.   The point there is that we don’t have the “freedom” to obey, and so we aren’t rewarded for faithfulness as God’s servants.  Perfect obedience is not a matter of “freedom of choice” for us….it is our duty before our Heavenly Master.

Today’s Scripture Lessons   

            The Children’s Lesson is the part of Scripture that precedes our Gospel Lesson.  It’s Luke 15:8-11, the Parable of he Lost Coin.   We’ll talk about the value and importance to God of every soul.   God doesn’t want anyone to be lost in sin and unbelief, and so lost to hell.   He wants everyone to believe in Him and be eternally safe in heaven one day.    So…. what can we do?   First, believe.   Second, help others to believe….and if believers get lost (or start wandering away) – besides praying for them, we need to go after them, helping them to repent and return to the Lord.

            Our Second Lesson provides us with words of encouragement to keep the Third Commandment by physically worshiping and engaging in fellowship together, so that we can edify each other’s faith. It also offers a solemn warning for us and others about forsaking the fellowship, separating ourselves not only from our fellow Christians, but – eventually (for that’s what is often the result over time) – from our Lord and our salvation.   The writer to the Hebrews warns that deliberate, unrepentant sin both forfeits God’s grace in Christ and brings down judgement – here and hereafter.   Specifically in these words, God is warning us not to compromise our faith in order to avoid persecution for that faith.   Rather than fear any earthly adversaries – or try to please people on earth – we need to fear God’s judgement and seek to please and obey Him instead.   God-enabling, you and I will not only remain faithful, but help others to do the same.

            This morning’s Gospel Lesson, as noted earlier, is the parable of the Prodigal Son……perhaps better referred to as “The Parable of the Waiting and Forgiving Father.”   We’ll see the amazing devotion of that rejected father whose younger son had wasted his inheritance only to return home to the continued love of his waiting, forgiving father.   We’ll also consider his equally amazing grace to his older son, who also suffered Spiritually because he was filled with anger and resentment toward both his returned brother and forgiving father.   He, too, needed to repent and be restored to a right relationship with his father.  Our Heavenly Father also has an endless love for sinful humanity – including you and me – even though we daily reject Him and rebel against Him through our sins.   Aren’t you glad and grateful our Heavenly Father continues to mercifully (and relentlessly) forgive us, to restore and to renew us as His children – and for that, not only do the angels in heaven rejoice, but we also give thanks to God.  

            Finally, through today’s Sermon we’ll be continuing our summer-long study across Paul’s letter to the Galatians.  The letter’s main emphasis is “don’t give up – or compromise – the Gospel of God’s free grace and salvation through faith in Christ ALONE.”   False teachers had infiltrated and compromised the congregations of Galatian, teaching an alternative Gospel that – in fact – was not Gospel at all.  They were confusing the Galatians by deceiving them into believing that faith in Christ alone was not enough to save them…..that they also had to follow the Jewish “Ceremonial”/worship regulations.   Paul’s letter is a vigorous defense of the Gospel that he brought them.  In today’s reading he urges them to stop being so “dysfunctional” in their faith and fellowship, and instead to reject those false teachers, reaffirm their commitment to the Gospel (and to each other) and to recognize and appreciate his genuine concern for their souls.

The portions of God’s Word used in this worship flyer have been taken from The Holy Bible, Evangelical Heritage Version    Copyright 2019, The Wartburg Project, Inc.   All rights reserved.   Used with permission Music and lyrics, as needed, are used with permission via #A712831

       Grace Lutheran Church of Northwest Arkansas

is affiliated with the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod, a church body which spans the United States and Canada, and which also operates a number of foreign missions.

Our Vision:  Extend God’s Kingdom through His Word, serving each Soul.


Our Mission:   Share the Gospel, Encourage Faith, and Prepare Souls

through Worship, Education and Fellowship.



Pre-Service Prayer

The day has dawned and duty calls     So many tasks await.

Lord, strengthen me when my spirit fails     Or when I hesitate

To do the good I ought to do    To shun each sinful way

Jesus, forgive the wrongs I do    And keep me safe today.Amen.

Prayer upon entering the sanctuary   

Pre-service Music


We Praise Our God

The Introduction and Invitation to Worship

The Invocation

Pastor – We begin this service in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

The Opening Hymn                                                                                             “The Morning Sun Is Dawning”

                                                                                                                                           To the tune of  CW 566

The morning sun is dawning,    And I thank God once more

Beneath Whose care awaking    I find the night is o’er:

I thank Him that He’s called me     To be His child and heir;

I know, whatever happens    I’m safely in His care.


O Lord of all creation,    Watch over me this day;

In all I do be near me,     For others too I pray –

To You I do commend them:   Our church, our youth, our land;

Direct them and defend them,    When dangers are at hand.


You are the Vine, O Savior,    May we, Your branches be,

Connected to You firmly,     And for eternity.

Your Spirit place within us,     And let His gifts of grace

Empower us to serve You – throughout our earthly race.


So grant us, Lord, Your blessing       That we may do Your will,

No more Your ways transgressing,     Our calling to fulfill;

To live and tell the Good News:    Christ died for all, that we –

through faith in Him, forgiven —  Have heaven eternally.

after which the Congregation will rise for


The Confessional Order of Service

Pastor              O LORD, Open my lips.


Congregation   (Sung)   And my mouth shall show forth Your praise.

Pastor              Hasten,  O God, to deliver me.

Congregation – (sung) Hasten to help me, O LORD.



Pastor              “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit.”

Congregation –    (Sung) A broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son    And to the Holy Ghost.

As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be.      World without end.   Amen.

We Make Confession Of Our Sins To God

Pastor       I now ask you before God, who searches your heart, do you confess that you have sinned against God  and deserve His wrath and punishment?  Then declare so by saying, “I do confess.

Congregation     “I do confess.”


Pastor    Truly you should confess, for the Holy Scriptures say, “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive  ourselves, and the truth is not in us.”

     Second, do you, with all your heart, repent of all your sins, committed in thought, word, and   deed?  Then declare so by saying, “I do repent.”


Congregation    “I do repent.”


Pastor     Truly, you should repent, as other penitent sinners have done:  King David, who prayed for a contrite  heart;  Peter, who wept bitterly;  the sinful woman, the prodigal son, and others.

Third, do you sincerely believe that God, by grace, for Jesus’ sake, will forgive you all your sins?  Then declare so by saying, “I do believe.”

Congregation     “I do believe.”

Pastor     Truly you should so believe, for the Holy Scriptures say, “God so loved the world that He gave His  one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.

Fourth, do you promise that with the help of the Holy Ghost, you will, from this time forward, reform your sinful life?  Then declare it by saying, “I do promise.”


Congregation    “I do promise.”

Pastor    Truly, you should so promise, for Christ, the Lord says:  “Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” 

Finally, do you believe that through me, a called servant of God, you will receive from God the  forgiveness of all your sins?  Then declare it by saying, “I do believe.

Congregation    “I do believe.”

Pastor    Upon this, your confession, I, because of my office as a called and ordained servant of God’s Word, announce the  grace of God to all of you.  And, in the place, and by the command of my Lord Jesus Christ,  I  forgive you all your sins, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.  Peace  be with you.  Amen.

The Prayer for Today

Gracious Lord, +  each day we wrestle with the temptations that come from Satan, + this wicked world, and our weak and sinful flesh.  +   Protect our souls from all false teaching and false living. + Forgive us for so often giving in to sin,  +  dishonoring You and shaming ourselves  +  because we fail to rely on the Spiritual guidance  +  and power that You offer us   +  through Your Spirit’s working in the Word and Sacraments.   +  Strengthen us today and every day  +  through these Means of Grace  +  that we might not fall away from the one true faith, + forfeiting the blessings of eternal life and salvation   +   which Christ earned for us  +  through His sinless life, death, and resurrection.  +  This we humbly ask in the name of Jesus Christ,  +  Your Son, our  Lord and Redeemer,  +  Who lives and rules with You and the Holy Spirit,  + as the one true God, now and forever.  +   Amen.


after which the Congregation may be seated

We Hear God’s Word

The Children’s Lesson                                                                                                                     Luke 15:8-11

“What woman who has ten silver coins, if she loses one coin, would not light a lamp, sweep the house, and search carefully until she finds it? 9 And when she finds it, she calls together her friends and neighbors and says, ‘Rejoice with me, because I have found the lost coin.’  10 In the same way, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

Souls….Lost and Found

The First Lesson                                                                                                                     Ephesians 4:17-32

17 So I tell you this and testify to it in the Lord: Do not walk any longer as the Gentiles walk, in their futile way of thinking. 18 They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, due to the hardness of their hearts. 19 Because they have no sense of shame, they have given themselves over to sensuality, with an ever-increasing desire to practice every kind of impurity.

20 But you did not learn Christ in that way, 21 if indeed you have heard of him and were taught in him (since the truth is in Jesus). 22 As far as your former way of life is concerned, you were taught to take off the old self, which is corrupted by its deceitful desires, 23 and to be renewed continually in the spirit of your mind, 24 and to put on the new self, which has been created to be like God in righteousness and true holiness.

25 Therefore, after you put away lying, let each of you speak truthfully with your neighbor, because we are all members of one body. 26 “Be angry, yet do not sin.”  Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry. 27 Do not give the Devil an opportunity. 28 Let the one who has been stealing steal no longer. Instead, let him work hard doing what is good with his own hands, so that he has something to share with a person who is in need. 29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come from your mouths. Say only what is beneficial when there is a need to build up others, so that it will be a blessing to those who hear. 30 Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Get rid of every kind of bitterness, rage, anger, quarreling, and slander, along with every kind of malice. 32 Instead, be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ has forgiven us.

The Second Lesson                                                                                                                 Hebrews 10:23-39

24 Let us also consider carefully how to spur each other on to love and good works. 25 Let us not neglect meeting together, as some have the habit of doing. Rather, let us encourage each other, and all the more as you see the Day approaching.    26 For if we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the full knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains any sacrifice for sins. 27 Instead, there is a certain fearful expectation of judgment and a raging fire that is going to consume the enemies of God. 28 Anyone who rejected the law of Moses was put to death without pity, on the basis of the testimony of two or three witnesses. 29 How much greater punishment do you think will be deserved by the person who trampled the Son of God underfoot, who considered insignificant the blood of the covenant, by which he was sanctified, and who insulted the Spirit of grace? 30 For we know the one who said:   “Vengeance is mine. I will repay.”   And again: “The Lord will judge his people.”   31 It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

32 Remember the former days when, after you were enlightened, you patiently endured a great struggle of sufferings. 33 Sometimes you were publicly shamed by insults and persecutions. At other times you became companions of those who were treated this way. 34 Indeed, you also sympathized with those in prison, and when your possessions were seized, you accepted it with joy, because you knew that you yourselves had a better and lasting possession. 35 So do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. 36 Certainly you need patient endurance so that, after you do God’s will, you may receive what was promised. 37 For in just a little while:   “The one who is coming will come and will not delay.   38 And my righteous one will live by faith, but if he shrinks back,   my soul takes no pleasure in him.”   39 Now we are not part of those who shrink back, resulting in destruction, but of those who have faith, resulting in the soul’s salvation.

The Gospel Lesson                                                                                                                       Luke 15:11–32

11 Jesus said, “A certain man had two sons. 12 The younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them. 13 Not many days later, the younger son gathered together all that he had and traveled to a distant country. There he wasted his wealth with reckless living. 14 After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that country, and he began to be in need. 15 He went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed pigs. 16 He would have liked to fill his stomach with the carob pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.

17 “When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have more than enough bread, and I am dying from hunger! 18 I will get up, go to my father, and tell him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Make me like one of your hired servants.”’

20 “He got up and went to his father. While he was still far away, his father saw him and was filled with compassion. He ran, hugged his son, and kissed him. 21 The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’

22 “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick, bring out the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let us eat and celebrate, 24 because this son of mine was dead and is alive again. He was lost and is found.’ Then they began to celebrate.

25 “His older son was in the field. As he approached the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 He called one of the servants and asked what was going on. 27 The servant told him, ‘Your brother is here! Your father killed the fattened calf, because he has received him back safe and sound.’ 28 The older brother was angry and refused to go in. His father came out and began to plead with him.

29 “He answered his father, ‘Look, these many years I’ve been serving you, and I never disobeyed your command, but you never gave me even a young goat so that I could celebrate with my friends. 30 But when this son of yours arrived after wasting your property with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him!’

31 “The father said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that I have is yours. 32 But it was fitting to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again. He was lost and is found.’”

After which the Congregation will rise for

The Confession of our Faith through the words of the Apostles’ Creed

 I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth.  And in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord;   Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost;   Born of the Virgin Mary;   Suffered under Pontius Pilate;   Was crucified, dead and buried;   He descended into hell;   The third day He rose again from the dead;   He ascended into heaven And sitteth at the right hand of God the Father Almighty;   From thence He shall come to judge the quick and the dead.  I believe in the Holy Ghost;  The Holy Christian Church, the communion of saints;   The forgiveness of sins;   The resurrection of the body;    And the life everlasting.  Amen.



Following which the Congregation may be seated for



The Sermon Hymn                                                                     Hymn 472  “Rise My Soul To Watch and Pray”


1 Rise, my soul, to watch and pray;    From your sleep awaken!

Be not by the evil day    Unawares o’ertaken.

For the foe, Well we know,    Is a harvest reaping    While the saints are sleeping.  


2 Watch! Let not the wicked world     With its lies defeat you

Lest with bold deceptions hurled    It betray and cheat you.

Watch and see Lest there be   Faithless friends to charm you    Who but seek to harm you.


3 Watch against yourself, my soul,    Lest with grace you trifle;

Let not self your thoughts control    Nor God’s mercy stifle.

Pride and sin Lurk within,      All your hopes to shatter;     Heed not when they flatter.


4 But while watching also pray     To the Lord unceasing.     

God protects you day by day,    Strength and faith increasing,

So that still Mind and will    Shall unite to serve him    And forever love him.



The Greeting

Grace, mercy and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God, our Father, and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  Amen.



The Sermon                                                                                                                               Galatians 4:8-20

8 Formerly, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those who by nature are not gods. 9 But now that you know God, or rather are known by God, why are you turning back again to the basic principles that are weak and miserable? Do you want to be enslaved by them all over again? 10 You carefully observe days, months, seasons, and years. 11 I am fearful about you, that somehow my labor for you was wasted.

12 I beg you, brothers, become like me, for I also became like you. You did me no harm. 13 You know that, because of a weakness of the flesh, I preached the gospel to you the first time. 14 And you did not despise or disdain the test my flesh gave you. Instead, you welcomed me as an angel of God, as Christ Jesus.

15 So where is this blessed attitude of yours now? Yes, I can say for a fact that, if it were possible, you would have plucked out your eyes and given them to me. 16 So then, have I become your enemy by telling you the truth? 17 Those people are eager to win you over, but not in a good way. Rather, they want to alienate you, so that you will be eager for them. 18 But it is always a good thing to have someone eager in a good way—not just when I am present with you.

19 My children, I am suffering birth pains for you again until Christ is formed in you. 20 I wish I were present with you now and could change my tone, because I am perplexed about you.

Dysfunction in the Family of Faith


after the sermon, the Congregation will remain seated  for the blessing

Pastor       To Him Who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before His glorious presence without fault and with great joy — to the only God our Savior, be glory, majesty, power, and authority now and forever.  Amen.

We Offer Our Gifts to the Lord

Our Offerings of Love to our Lord


Offerings will be received this morning through offering plates passed among those who have gathered here for worship.

   However, for those viewing this service online,  we offer you the following suggestions for providing God with Your thank-offerings through our ministry:     

1) You can mail a check (no cash) to the church address:     (415 N. 6th Place, Lowell, AR 72745)

2) You can donate on our website:

as the offerings are brought forward, the Congregation will rise for

Our Prayers to the Lord

Our Prayers for Today


In our prayers this morning we include

A Special Prayer of Thanksgiving on behalf of our brother, Bill Krizsan,  whom our Lord, in His grace, called home to heaven early Friday morning;        and also

A Prayer of Thanksgiving on behalf of Ed and Andrea Bratton, who will be celebrating their wedding anniversary this coming Saturday;

The Lord’s Prayer                                                           

Our Father, Who art in heaven;  Hallowed be Thy name;  Thy Kingdom come;  Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven;   Give us this day our daily bread;   And forgive us our trespasses,  as we forgive those who trespass against us;   And lead us not into temptation;   But deliver us from evil;  For Thine is the Kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever and ever.  Amen.    



We Celebrate the Lord’s Supper


Pastor           The Lord be with you.

Congregation   (Sung) And also with you

Pastor          Lift up your hearts.


Congregation   (Sung) We lift them up to the Lord.



Pastor          Let us give thanks to the Lord, our God.


Congregation   (Sung)   It is good and right so to do.

Consecration of the Elements                                                                                                                                                                            

Pastor          The peace of the Lord be with you always.

Congregation    (Sung)   Amen.

The Exhortation Regarding the Lord’s Supper


(Please read the following if you have not spoken with our Pastor  about taking communion.  Thank you.)


       At Grace Lutheran Church, on the basis of what the Bible teaches, we practice what is known as “Close Communion.”   That means we are able to offer the Lord’s Supper this morning only to those individuals who – after completing a thorough study with us of the doctrines contained God’s Word – have already publicly committed themselves to be members of our fellowship because of their agreement with those teachings.   In so doing we are endeavoring to express our comprehensive commitment (and unity which we – as a Christian congregation – share with each other as members of this fellowship) to all the teachings of the Scriptures. and to our striving to put them fully and faithfully into practice in our ministry.  

     That “comprehensive commitment” requirement (which our Lord expects of all His children and so of every church – please see Romans 16:17-18;   2 John 10-11;   I John 4:1-3;   John 8:31-32;   Matthew 28:19-20 …among other portions of Scripture that express this)  allows us only to offer the Lord’s Supper to those persons who are already committed, confirmed, communicant members of Grace Lutheran congregation, or who have become members of one of the congregations of our Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod.   

     We do this, not to offend anyone, but  because the Scriptures teach that only those who are “one,” that is, in complete doctrinal agreement, united in a comprehensive public confession of faith, are to commune together at the same altar (see I Corinthians 10:17 and I Corinthians 1:10).

    Through membership in a particular congregation or church body (for us, that

church body is the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod), each person makes a public statement that he/she is in full agreement with the teachings and practices of that body.    Because not every congregation, church body or Lutheran Synod teaches and practices the same things, we at Grace and in the WELS want to be honest in our recognition of the doctrinal/teaching differences that, here on earth, separate us from other church bodies.    

     To our Guests this morning…..  We want you to know that we sincerely appreciate your presence among us today, and we do rejoice that we share faith in Christ with you.   Please understand that by asking you to refrain from communing with us this morning we are NOT judging your faith in Christ.   What we are doing is expressing – as a congregation – our complete unity of faith in Christ, as well as our joint commitment to all the teachings (doctrines) of God’s Word.   Consequently, we hope that you will do us the courtesy of kindly respecting our Biblical practice of close communion practice by refraining from taking the Lord’s Supper with us today.

      It is our hope that our Scripture-based practice of “Close Communion” will encourage anyone among us this morning who is not presently in full doctrinal fellowship with us to seriously examine the teachings and practices of his/her church in order to determine if those teachings and practices are really in full agreement with God’s Word.     In fact, we pray that all of our guests – and many others – will one day share with us in this “close” fellowship which we enjoy at Grace Lutheran and in the WELS, by your studying God’s Word with us , by joining us in this joint, comprehensive commitment to His Biblical teachings that our Lord wants us to have with each other, and by committing yourself to membership in our church family.

     A brochure further explaining the Biblical basis for this Close Communion practice is available on the entryway tract/brochure rack.    We encourage you to carefully examine it – especially the Biblical references within it –  and also to speak with our Pastor after the service (or, at your convenience) so that you might better understand and appreciate our Biblically-based “Close Communion” practice.

     Thank you for your understanding, your patience, and for your presence here among us this morning.   May God bless you, as you are a blessing to us !



The Distribution Hymns

                                                                                                  Hymn 306    “Before You, God, the Judge of All”


1 Before you, God, the Judge of all,     With grief and shame I humbly fall.

I see my sins against you, Lord,     My sins of thought and deed and word.

They press me sore; to you I flee:     O God, be merciful to me!


2 O Lord, my God, to you I pray:     Oh, cast me not in wrath away!

Let your good Spirit ne’er depart,     But let him draw to you my heart

That truly penitent I be:     O God, be merciful to me!


3 O Jesus, let your precious blood     Be to my soul a cleansing flood.

Turn not, O Lord, your guest away,    But grant that justified I may

Go to my house at peace to be:    O God, be merciful to me!




                                                                                        Hymn 315    “Here, O My Lord I See You Face to Face”


1 Here, O my Lord, I see you face to face;      Here would I touch and handle things unseen,

Here grasp with firmer hand eternal grace,     And all my weariness upon you lean.


2 This is the hour of banquet and of song;    Here is the heav’nly table spread anew.

Here let me feast and, feasting, still prolong     The brief bright hour of fellowship with you.


3 I have no help but yours nor do I need     Another arm but yours to lean upon.

It is enough, O Lord, enough indeed;     My strength is in your might, your might alone.


4 Mine is the sin but yours the righteousness;     Mine is the guilt but yours the cleansing blood.

Here is my robe, my refuge, and my peace:     Your blood, your righteousness, O Lord, my God.


5 Too soon we rise; the vessels disappear.     The feast, though not the love, is past and gone.

The bread and wine remove, but you are here,     Nearer than ever, still my shield and sun.


6 Feast after feast thus comes and passes by,    Yet, passing, points to that glad feast above,

Giving sweet foretaste of the festal joy,     The Lamb’s great marriage feast of bliss and love.


After the distribution, the Congregation will rise as


We Leave With The Lord’s Blessing

The Closing Prayer                                                                                                                                            

The Benediction

The LORD bless you and keep you.

The LORD make His face to shine upon you and be gracious unto you.

The LORD look with favor upon you, and give you His peace.   Amen.


Closing Hymn                                                             Hymn 334 “Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow”


Praise God, from whom all blessings flow;   Praise him, all creatures here below;

Praise him above, ye heav’nly host;    Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost!


Last Week at Grace                   Worship Attendance: 69    Online views: 15        Sunday Bible Class: 24     (Online views 6)

           Tuesday Bible Study: 11 Budget: $3236    Online: $130.91    Cap Imv: $60     Dan Beck Memorial: $125

This Week’s Birthday and Anniversary                  8/21 – Kay Giardino;       8/21 – Janice Davis;     8/23 Samuel Strackbein; 

8/25 – Zak Ferguson       8/26 – Allen Skogen;     8/27 – Noah Harper;    8/27 – Ed & Andrea Bratton

Serving Us Next Sunday (8-28)          Elders:   Tim Pfortmiller, Vic Walker             Fellowship: the Johnsons 

Altar Guild:   Mary Karloski, Vicki Walker              Ushers:   Taylor Ashley, John Wambold, John Johnson

This Coming Week at Grace Lutheran Church

Today       Morning Worship and  Communion, 9:30   Fellowship, 10:45 am   Bible Class and Sunday School, 11:05 a.m.                                                                                                                                           

Tuesday   Morning Bible Class,   10:30-11:30 am                Church Council Meeting, 6 p.m.

Sunday     Morning Worship, 9:30 a.m.       Fellowship Period, 10:45 a.m.         Bible Class and Sunday School – 11:05 a.m.

Good Grief

2 Corinthians 7:2-16


When I hear the expression “Good Grief!” I always think of Charlie Brown in the Peanuts comic strip.    I have no idea when, why, or how that expression originated.    But I do think that there’s a “good grief” and an “evil grief.”   Certainly Paul must think that too, for he distinguishes between these two kinds of grief, or sorrow, in the verses that we’ll be studying in this lesson.   Good grief is that which leads a person to repentance and – ultimately – to eternal life through faith in our merciful Savior-God.  Evil grief, on the other hand, can lead in individual into eternal death.   Consequently, it’s critically important for your Spiritual well-being and mine that when we grieve or sorrow, we have – in our hearts and heads – the right kind of grief.


Here in chapter seven Paul alludes to some very serious problems that he’s been facing both within the churches in Macedonia as well as inside the church in Corinth.   In Corinth, particularly, false teachers had infiltrated the church and had gained a significant following.   As we know from our previous studies, these “false apostles” were preaching and teaching a different Gospel to the Corinthians that was damaging their faith and disturbing the church in general.   Their following among the once Spiritually-solid Corinthians was growing.   What’s more, these false teachers were on a mission to undermine the credibility and authenticity of Paul and his co-workers.  They not only made false accusations regarding his character and commitment to the Corinthians, but they also said that the Gospel Paul preached was inadequate, insufficient to save them…..when the fact was Paul, his associates, and their Gospel message were faithful.   These “super apostle” adversaries were, in reality, not merely inadequate, or even just unfaithful…..They were heretics, who were presenting the Corinthians with a fraudulent Gospel that ultimately would damn, rather than save souls.


Making matters worse, a fairly prominent member family in Corinth was caught up in the sin of incest.   1 Corinthians 5 and 2 Corinthians 2 talk about this in more detail.   A man was sexually involved with his father’s wife.   Whether she was his biological mother or step-mother is irrelevant; this was a publicly offensive, grievously sinful situation.   At first the congregation apparently tolerated the incest.   When Paul found out, he was appalled, and expressed himself in those terms.  He wrote very bluntly and firmly to the church ordering them, for the sake of their own souls as well as the offending member, to expel that immoral brother….which they did.   No doubt there was a lot of shame, and perhaps some very hurt feelings within the family of believers in Corinth.   Eventually the man repented of his sin and sought a restoration of fellowship….which the once-tolerant members were quite reluctant to do – for whatever their reason.   Regardless, they didn’t “get” either the concept of repentance or forgiveness they way should have.   Paul had to write them in 2 Corinthians 2 to receive the once-offending, now-repentant brother back into the fellowship before Satan dug his hooks into that poor soul again.   ……I can only imagine how disappointed Paul had to have been, even as he had to have been pleased that the man had repented and was restored.


Looking at all these problems both in the churches of Macedonia and in Corinth, one might ask how Paul could possibly be so upbeat, so joyful?    How can he be as optimistic and encouraged as his words in chapter seven clearly indicate?    How can Paul be so encouraged about the Corinthians’ faith and so confident about their faithfulness, so much so that he boasts about them to others?   The answer to this question is one of the essential points in this Bible study.   So, without further ado, let’s look more in depth at what the Apostle wrote, in order that we might learn how he could feel that way he did toward people who disappointed him, caused him sleepless nights and even drew back from fellowship with him…..and how we also can deal evangelically with the people who have – and continue to – disappoint us.


7:2       “Make room in your hearts for us”   Some of the Corinthians have withdrawn emotionally from Paul.  In essence they had “squeezed” him out of their lives.   But Paul hadn’t wronged them;   they were treating/thinking about him wrongly.


“Wronged no one.” – Here and in what follows, Paul gives a list of negative things he and his co-workers did not do to the Corinthians.   His pro and con evidence in the next few verses should provide some proof of his love for them and how justly and evangelically he has treated them., as well as some motivation for the Corinthians to, once again, open their hearts to Paul.    Not only hadn’t Paul wronged them, God had used him to lift them up from the depths and darkness of unbelief into the light of saving faith in Christ.    The same cannot be said for the unjust way the false apostles treated the Corinthians.


“Corrupted” – Paul had not seduced, or misled them in any way.   The term can be used in connection with money, morals, or doctrine.


“Taken advantage” – the Corinthians haven’t been exploited or cheated by Paul and his team in order to achieve some kind of monetary gain or other personal benefit.   It refers to that selfish attitude in an individual who is willing to do whatever it takes to satisfy his/her selfishness.


7:3       “I am not saying this to condemn you” – Paul’s intent is not to shame them or put them down so that they feel inferior.   That was the tactic of the false apostles who elevated themselves by demeaning others – particularly Paul.  This term is often connected to judicial decisions.


“You are in our hearts”  – regardless of how they treat them or feel about them, Paul and his co-workers are going to continue to care about the Corinthians – particularly their eternal souls.


“we died together and live together with you”  – what Paul’s talking about here is that he and the Corinthians both died, according to their sinful nature and inherent hostility to Christ, when they were converted.   Think of Luther’s thoughts in the Small Catechism in connection with the third part of Baptism….how the Old Adam in us needs to be drowned by daily contrition and repentance and that afterward a New Man should arise created to be like God in righteousness and holiness.   The words here “live together with you” refer to the godly lives that Paul and the Corinthians were committed to living before the Lord.


7:4       “great confidence” – Paul is so very confident that the Corinthians will come around and hold firmly to the Gospel.


            “very proud” – Paul even boasts about them to others, including Titus (verses 4, 14)


“in all our trouble” – in the verses that follow Paul will inform the Corinthians about his afflictions in Macedonia, as he was traveling to them.


7: 5      “when we came” – After a three year stay in Ephesus during his third missionary journey, Paul traveled north to meet Titus, who had gone ahead of him to Corinth.   Not finding Titus at Troas, Paul had crossed the Aegean Sea into Macedonia, hoping to meet him there.  


“Macedonia” –  is a geographical and historical region of the Balkan Peninsula in Southeast Europe. Its boundaries have changed considerably over time.   From the middle of the 4th century BC until the 2nd century BC, the Kingdom of Macedon was the dominant power in the Balkan Peninsula.   Its territory then covered what today include lands in six Balkan countries: larger parts in Greece, North Macedonia, and Bulgaria, and smaller parts in Albania, Serbia, and Kosovo.   Under the dominion of the Romans from the 2nd century BC to the Byzantine era (5th century AD), Macdeonia in Paul’s day consisted of what is today Northern and Central Greece, much of the geographical area of the Republic of North Macedonia and southeast Albania.


“Our flesh had no relief” – things had been difficult for Paul in Troas (although he had great ministry opportunities there), but – rather than experiencing a reprieve from the problems he had been experiencing, matters  were just as – and perhaps more – difficult for him in Macedonia.         


            “We were troubled in every way” – the Greek word means to put pressure on someone, to afflict him.


“conflicts on the outside” – external problems.  The term in Greek refers to fights/battles….presumably with non-Christians.


“fears on the inside” – internal issues.  Perhaps Paul was “fearful” for the safety of Titus who was overdue in his return, as well as fearful for the reception that Titus might have been given and the success of his mission.


7:6       “God, Who comforts the downcast” – God supports those who are – in today’s terminology – depressed.   The word in Greek speaks about being “humbled” in a psychological sense.     Elijah certainly felt down/low as he dealt with his depression.  He even despaired for his own life (2 Kings 18), wishing that God would end his life rather than make him continue to minister to the Israelites and their wicked king Ahab and queen Jezebel.   Apparently, Paul had occasions also where his spirits were “down.”    That should provide a measure of encouragement to those of us who routinely deal with depression.   If these great men of faith had to contend with depression, like us – and God took them through it – then, those among us who struggle emotionally and who see the glass “half empty” more often than “half full,” can trust that God will support and Spiritually strengthen them too through the power of His Word.


“comforted us with the arrival of Titus” – Titus came to Paul.  That was a great comfort all by itself….that Titus was safe and back with Paul.   But Paul’s comfort in connection with Titus went beyond that.   He brought Paul a very encouraging report regarding the renewed faithfulness of the Corinthians.   Sometimes we need to remember that it’s important that we not only share our woes and troubles with others, but also our good news. 


7:7       “your longing….and your serious concern for me” – the Corinthians had a serious desire to see Paul again and reconcile with him.  His concern for their souls was rewarded by their renewed concern for him.


“sorrow” – a lamentation or mourning, over what the had allowed to happen.   They were ashamed.   And that not only proved to Paul that they were penitent, it brought him joy….even though he had been hurting initially due to their sin.


7:8       “even if I caused you sorrow in my letter” – Paul has made several visits to Corinth and has also written them several letters (only two of which are preserved for us in the Scriptures).    Yet the Corinthians knew exactly which letter Paul was talking about.  It hurt him to write it and it caused them pain (which is the sense of the Greek word) to read it…..but the pain on both the giving and receiving end was necessary.   The letter to which he’s referring was undoubtedly what we now call First Corinthians.   And the issue had to do with the brother guilty of incest and the congregation that chose to “look the other way” – whatever their reasoning might have been.   Simply put, they weren’t as concerned about his soul as they ought to have been…..and Paul let them know it.   He knew there was no other way it could be properly dealt with.


“I do not regret it” – the rebuke (and subsequent pain of heart) was necessary.    Long before the term “tough love” was employed, Paul exercised tough love in calling people – in this case the Corinthians – to repent.   No doubt his “style” of ministry and message would not be “popular” or “politically correct today,” but I can’t imagine Paul speaking any other way…..nor should his 21st century successors speak any other way about sin, let alone regret speaking the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15).


“only for a little while”  – Paul’s letter quickly produced the intended effect.   Only a sadistic person takes pleasure in the sufferings of others.   Paul was not a sadist.   Their hurting was temporary, and it helped lead them to the godly sorrow and produced genuine repentance.


7:9       “because this sorrow resulted in repentance.,    Yes, you were made to feel sorry in a godly way”  – there is a type of sorrow that is pleasing to and in accord with the will of God.   God the Holy Spirit works that type of repentance in our hearts (Philippians 2:13) because, by nature, we hate repenting and hate God (Romans 8:7).  God has to accomplish this, making us feel sorry in a godly way.  We can’t do it without his empowerment.


“you were not harmed in any way by us” – If a Christian fails to speak up to rebuke a sinner (when that individual is sinning/has sinned), then he/she becomes a partner in sin with the sinning fellow Christian.    We might even contribute to their Spiritual downfall.    Great Spiritual harm can come because of “politically wise” silence/failure to rebuke sin.  The word translated “harmed” here in Greek means “to inflict injury or punishment.”   In the passive voice, as is the case here, it refers to suffering damage or loss, or sustaining an injury.


7:10      “godly sorrow produces repentance which leads to salvation” – Repentance means “to turn around,”   “to change ones thinking and heart.”   There is only one kind of repentance as far as God is concerned…..that which acknowledges and, with God’s enabling help, turns away from sin to produce the “fruit” of greater faithfulness (Matthew 3:8) consistent with genuine repentance.    


“leaving no regret” – repentance leads to salvation, so how can any Christian regret repenting?   In hell, souls forever ponder the thought, “If only I had…..”   How blessed we are to have the Holy Spirit in our hearts, working repentance and faith in us!    So, never regret repenting.   If it doesn’t please the people around it, it always pleases God….and that matters far more.


“worldly sorrow produces death” – Paul only speaks of one kind of repentance, but he does talk about two kinds of “sorrow” – worldly sorrow that leads to death, and godly sorrow that produces repentance and leads to life.   Worldly sorrow is the shame of getting caught, as well as the pain of suffering whatever the consequences are for our transgression.   It’s not sorrow because I’ve sinned against God or hurt others.   It’s sorrow that I got caught.   Judas had worldly sorrow over his betrayal of Jesus.   The same could be said of Esau, who sold his birthright and regretted the personal loss (Hebrews 12:16-17).   


7:11      “diligence” – earnest determination


“eagerness to clear yourself” – the Corinthians, duly rebuked, want to do what is godly, to demonstrate their sincerity and renewed faithfulness….and in so doing, to vindicate themselves against any further accusations by making things as right as they can under the circumstances.  


“indignation” – they are incensed by their having sinned and having brought shame both on their church and on their Savior.


            “alarm” – they have an appropriate fear of God because of what they have done (or, in this case, failed to do).   Jesus’ words in Matthew 10:28 certain fit this situation, whenever it occurs.


“What correction!” – They’ve taken action to deal with the wrongs they once overlooked or rationalized away.    Do we?


7:12      “You proved yourselves to be pure in this matter” – the word in Greek for pure means “immaculate, without guilt.”  The Corinthians “put their money where their mouth was” insofar as they demonstrated by word and deed that they were committed to living faithfully for the Lord.


“I wrote….not because of the one who did what was wrong” – certainly Paul was concerned about the Spiritual well-being of the active sinner, but he was also – and in some ways far more – concerned about the Spiritual complacency of the entire congregation and their need to repent of their passive tolerance of sin and failure to rebuke it.  Consequently, theirs was more a sin of “omission” versus a sin of “comission.”



“the one harmed by it” – every sin has a “victim”….at the very least the perpetrator.   But, more often than not, the object of a Christian’s sinning.    For example, a person innocently hurt by another can become hateful, mean, and obsessed with thoughts of vengeance.    Thus the harm can be both physical/emotional and also Spiritual.  The word in Greek for “harmed” has a strong legal flavor either in the active voice (the person responsible for the crime) or in the passive voice (as is the case here), the individual who was the victim of the crime committed.    In all probability, the injured individual could be the true husband of the woman, and father of the man both guilty of incest.

            “in the sight of God” – nothing passes God’s notice.   This is surely an affirmation of God’s omniscience.

7:13      “we have been comforted” – this word/verb Greek has a durative connotation.   “We have been comforted and continue to be comforted.”    The Church Discipline Paul had engaged in worked!    That should be an encouragement and comfort to us also, whether in our households when evangelical disciplinary correction is required….or in our church when discipline needs to be practiced for the good of the erring individual and for the Spiritual health and security of the congregation.

“all of you have set his [Titus’] spirit at rest” – Paul wasn’t the only member of the mission team who faced difficulties for the sake of Christ.   Those associated with Paul often also suffered along with him.    No doubt Titus went to Corinth with a heavy heart, expecting to encounter impenitence and offense.  What a relief and blessing for him to experience and help further the repentance of the Corinthians.   

7:14      “If I made any boast to him about you I have not been put to shame”  – This change, this relief, in Titus was an encouragement to Paul, since the apostle previously had boasted to Titus about the steadfastness of the Corinthians and his confidence in them.   In a sense, Paul’s judgement had been “on the line.”  Would the Corinthians live up to their calling?   Had Paul overestimated their Spiritual integrity and commitment?   Ultimately, they did live up to Paul’s expectations.  

7:15      “his heart goes out to you even more” – Now Titus feels the same way about the Corinthians that Paul did.  Now Titus’ heart is warmed with true affection toward them also, making Titus even more in harmony with Paul.  The term in Greek translated “heart” actually means “inner parts.”  The Greeks, and most other ancients, described their emotions and affections as coming from their belly/abdomen.

“As he remembers the obedience of all of you” – Titus appreciation and respect for the Corinthians was due not only to their confession…..but to their obedient, faithful conduct.  As James puts it (paraphrased) “don’t just talk about your faith, show it through your actions” (James 2:17-18).

“you received him with fear and trembling” – Given what Paul had written to them in 1 Corinthians, no doubt the Corinthians expected his envoy, Titus, to “drop the hammer” of the Law on them.   He didn’t.  He didn’t have to.   In Greek the emphasis behind “fear and trembling” is that of a “nervous anxiety to do ones duty.”

7:16      “I rejoice”  – Paul’s circumstances in life are not what brought him joy.   (This is something that becomes abundantly clear to us as we read his letter to the Philippians… which he expresses amazing joy and peace in the most difficult of physical situations [he was in prison, possibly facing execution].    His joy came from knowing that through his ministry as well as the Gospel ministries of others, souls were being brought to faith in the true God and into God’s heavenly kingdom.   It was all about souls….THAT is what brought Paul joy.   And that is what should bring us joy too, like the angels who rejoice over every sinner that repents (Luke 15:7).

“I have complete confidence in you” – Paul doesn’t mean by this statement that there are no more challenges ahead for them.   In the chapters ahead, Paul will talk about the sometimes difficult matter of Christian stewardship in connection with the collection being gathered for the mother church in Jerusalem.   Still later, in this letter’s closing chapters, Paul will tackle again the thorny issue of the “super apostles” who have been misleading some in the congregation and disrupting the fellowship.   But in both of the aforementioned matters, as well as other Spiritual issues, Paul is confident that his brothers and sisters in Corinth truly believe and desire to do what God says, and that they still looked to Paul as their Spiritual father.

Learning How to be Generous With our Offerings

2 Corinthians 8:1-15

The Bible contains roughly 500 verses that deal with prayer and/or faith.

So, approximately how many verses in the Bible do you think deal with the subject of money?

  1. Less than 200
  2. Between 200 and 500
  3. Around 1,000
  4. Over 2,000

I can almost hear the groans coming from some people here.   Surely someone is thinking, “There he goes, just like every other preacher I have ever heard … talking about money.”      And you’re right, of course.    Preachers do talk about money because God in His Word talks about it – a lot!    Paul speaks about it here in 2 Corinthians chapters 8 and 9.    But the Old Testament also talked about it.    And Jesus talked about it (approximately 40% of His parables have to do with money in one fashion or another).  The apostles, as Paul does here, wrote about it as well.   And let’s keep in mind that Paul is not raising funds for his ministry, nor is he soliciting contributions so that the church can build an addition or pay its bills.   He’s not even encouraging people to contribute funds for missions or evangelism.  Elsewhere the Bible talks – sometimes explicitly – about these areas of giving.   But here, Paul is talking about giving benevolent offerings for the benefit of brothers and sisters in the faith who are financially in dire straits.

At first glance, we might think that Paul’s words regarding money are introduced rather abruptly, and so are out of place in the context of 2 Corinthians’ overall emphasis on eliminating false teaching, as well as more sanctified living.   Actually, nothing could be farther from the truth.   What Paul teaches here about Christian giving is directly related to many of the problems that had developed inside the Corinthian congregation – problems of Spiritual laxity that he had been addressing throughout the two letters we identify as 1 and 2 Corinthians.   What’s more, these are words from God that every Christian needs first to hear, and then to understand, and finally to put into practice.   So, without further ado, let’s give the attention of our heads and our hearts to what our Lord is teaching us in these chapters about how each of us can be more generous when it comes to giving our offerings…..and why.

First, let’s remind ourselves of what’s been going on in Corinth.    When Paul first arrived in Corinth on his second missionary journey, he preached the Gospel clearly and consistently…..and the Holy Spirit brought a number of the Corinthians to faith in Jesus Christ through Paul’s Gospel ministry.   In a very real sense the Corinthians were the Spiritual “children” of Paul.   In their gratitude for God’s grace to them in Christ, the church in Corinth – like many other congregations – were eager to serve God, which they learned they could do by contributing to a special offering that was being gathered to assist the “mother church” back in Jerusalem.   (It seems a significant famine had run through Palestine and, coupled with the large number of widows and poor in Jerusalem, the congregation as a whole was in dire material straits.)   Titus apparently already had visited Corinth to help them develop a plan by which contributions for the poor in Jerusalem would be raised over time.   In fact, in 1 Corinthians 16:1-4, Paul gave them some instructions about their planned gift to Jerusalem’s poor:    “Now concerning the collection for the saints, do as I directed the churches in Galatia to do. 2 On the first day of every week, each of you is to set something aside in keeping with whatever he gains, saving it up at home, so that when I come, no collections will need to be carried out. 3 When I arrive, those whom you approve will be provided with letters, and I will send these representatives to deliver your gracious gift to Jerusalem. 4 If it is appropriate for me to go also, they will go with me.”

Apparently, however, over time the Corinthians had lost much of their enthusiasm for this effort, falling behind in making the contributions they had committed to the Jerusalem relief gift.   Of course, it’s not that hard for us to imagine how that could have happened, is it?   First, Paul had moved on to serve in other fields, and the affection of at least some of the Corinthians had begun to cool toward him.   That was largely due to the unwholesome influence of the Judaizing, “false apostles” who had followed Paul, condemning both his Gospel message and his character.   What’s more, Paul had written a painful – some might say “harsh” – letter to the Corinthians, critical of their Spiritual inconsistencies and doctrinal deviations.   That letter caused both Paul and the Corinthians great personal sorrow (see 2 Corinthians 7).   Simply put, their feelings were hurt.    But, his letter had had the desired effect.  The Corinthians had repented.   They again yearned for Paul, zealously defending him.  They were eager to have him visit them again.   But Paul’s next visit was going to include receiving the offering the Corinthians had committed to gathering for the mother church.  How embarrassing would it have been for the Corinthians if they had not gathered the generous offering that they had promised for Jerusalem?   It would have an awful way to “restart” their renewed relationship as brothers and sisters in Christ.   So, here in the midst of his second (in Scripture) letter to them, Paul writes these two chapters (8 and 9) reminding the Corinthians of what they had promised, as well as  giving them the right, Spiritual motivation to help them complete their planned giving project, thereby paving the way for a joyful reunion, along with providing a blessing for the church in Jerusalem.

The Marvelous Macedonian Model of Generosity    (2 Corinthians 8:1-7)

8:1       “brothers” – a general term used by Paul to describe the fellowship of Christians….whether male of female;   and sometimes (though not here) used to refer to his coworkers.

“grace of God that was given to the churches of Macedonia” – this is not the “typical” use of the term “grace” (which is the NT’s way of expressing the undeserved, unconditional, unilateral love of God for us in Christ and the salvation that He freely gives us through the redeeming work of Christ).   Here, “grace” refers to the specific opportunity God has given the churches of Macedonia to participate in the special Jerusalem collection.

8:2       “severe test” – the Greek word for “test” speaks about the process of testing the quality of some metal, in order to prove its worth and genuineness.   As far as the “severe test” spoken of in this verse is concerned, just as Paul and Silas were harshly treated during their ministry in Macedonia by the authorities, as well as many unbelievers in the communities in which they ministered, even so their followers faced persecution and abuse.

“trouble” – the word means “pressure” or “affliction” – Here we want to think about the sufferings for Jesus’ sake that the Macedonian Christians (the churches in Berea, Thessalonica, and Philippi, among others) gladly endured.   See Acts 16:12-17;   I Thessalonians 1:6 and 2:14;   also 2 Thessalonians 1:4.

“deep poverty” – another way of describing “deep” would be “rock bottom” – their poverty couldn’t get any

lower, or worse.   They were in immanent danger of real starvation…..and remember, these are the Macedonians – not the Christians in Jerusalem.   The Romans imposed high taxes on the Macedonians.  It resulted in suffocating prices…. especially for food and rent.   The result was overwhelming poverty.

“generosity” – or liberality.   The basic meaning of the word in Greek is “single-mindedness” and speaks about a true open-heartedness and generosity toward others with no ulterior motive other than love.

“of their own free will” – the gift was both spontaneous and voluntary, out of their own initiative without coercion or manipulation.

8:3       “to their ability…even beyond” – they gave sacrificially…..truly, until it hurt (but, in a good, godly way).  

8:4       “pleading with us” – literally, “begging” for the privilege of participating – even though they were suffering some of the same financial hardships as the church in Jerusalem

“in this service” – the early church’s relief offering (Acts 11:29; Galatians 2:9) in connection with the famine that Agabus had prophesied earlier in Acts 11:28

“saints” – literally, “holy ones.”    While this term can carry a negative connotation, due to the practice of certain church bodies to declare individuals to have been “saints” and then either pray to them or venerate (almost worship) them…..Saints can also be a very positive term, describing the Christian as someone who has been declared “holy/without sin” by God’s grace, having had the sinlessness of Christ applied to him or her.   It is due to Christ’s holiness applied to us that we can be confident of one day entering everlasting life in the holiness of heaven, where we will live in the presence of our perfect God.

8:5       “in keeping with God’s will” – One of God’s plans, or purposes, for His people is that we are proportionately generous in our offerings to Him, as well as in our support of our fellow Christians – particularly those in need.

“first to the Lord” – Christian giving always involves the First Commandment.  In fact, this is the general principal of Christian giving:   We put God first in our giving by returning to Him our “first-fruits” (i.e., biggest and best – straight off the top) offerings.   In so doing, we also are expressing our faith/trust that our God will continue to supply all our needs as we put Him and His Kingdom needs as our highest material priority.

8:6       “we urged Titus” – Apparently the offering had begun under the direction of Titus the previous year.   Whatever the reason, the progress of that offering in Corinth had slowed down considerably.   Paul was now sending Titus back to them, along with this letter (2 Corinthians), for the purpose of completing the good work that this offering was.

            “completion” – to thoroughly/finally bring to its goal.

8:7       Paul offers two motivations for the Corinthians’ participating in the relief offering:   1) they can follow the good example of the Macedonian churches;   2) they can be generous in response to God’s grace to their own congregation.

“in faith, in word, in knowledge, in all diligence, and in your love for us” – an indication of how comprehensively gifted and talented this congregation was.

The Master Model of Generosity:  Jesus Christ     (2 Corinthians 8:8-9)

8:8       “not…as a command” – Paul was no legalist.   You can’t order someone to be generous.    That can come only from a heat that is grateful for God’s comprehensive goodness.

“genuine” – in the original Greek, the primary sense of the word is “born in wedlock.”     It’s derived understanding is “genuine,” as it is used here.   The idea conveyed is one of “legitimacy”….of something properly done in the approved way.

“love” – the Greek word used here is “agape” and refers to their renewed, genuine, selfless for Paul and his associates.

“comparing it” – Paul is comparing their love and commitment to that of the Macedonians and others, yet the apostle is confident that they will prove themselves faithful.

8:9       “though He was rich” – the eternal Son of God left the glories of heaven behind and emptied Himself of His divine prerogatives, voluntarily limiting Himself (Philippians 2:7) so that He could go the way of the cross to save Spiritually destitute, fallen humanity from hell, and for heaven.

“for your sakes He became poor” – the verb tense in the Greek for “became poor” leaves us with the understanding that the entire course of Jesus’ incarnation should be viewed as one act – eventually resulting in His securing our salvation.  

“so that through His poverty you might become rich” – Jesus gave up everything and subjected Himself to abject poverty and humiliation (not “embarrassment” but “total limitation”) so that we might, through faith in Him, receive the richness of everlasting life in heaven…..although we actually already have heaven’s blessings now by God’s steadfast guarantee of them to us.

So, My Brother Corinthians, Finish What You Started   (2 Corinthians 8:10-12)

8:10      “advice” – can also be translated “opinion”….but, given that Paul was divinely inspired, this is not mere human opinion that can be accepted or declined.    It is sound, proper, correct direction from God Himself.

            “helpful” – that which is advantageous, profitable, or useful.

“last year” – If Paul was writing these words in the fall of A.D. 57, then the Corinthians would have had at least 9 months, and perhaps as many as 21 months to get on with gathering this offering.

            “you were the first to take action….to be willing”

8:11      “bring the work to completion”  – It’s time to finish the task to which they had committed themselves.

            “your eagerness” – this means “putting oneself forward as willing to do something.”

            “with what you have”  – according to ones’ resources, or means.

8:12      “the gift is acceptable”   Paul doesn’t demand that the Corinthians give beyond their means.   Rather, he encourages them to practice generosity commensurate with the resources that God has entrusted to them.

“according to what someone has, not according to what he does not have” – Faithful, God-pleasing offerings are given “proportionately” – always in grateful response to what God has chosen to entrust to a particular individual.    If one is blessed with an abundance of material or Spiritual gifts, proportionately abundant offerings will naturally come forth from that individual.      If ones blessings and gifts, comparably speaking, are not as abundant or substantial as another’s, then the former’s offering response – comparably speaking – will not be as large as the believer who has been given more.   Nevertheless, it should be proportionately comparable.   (See Luke 12:47-48.)

The Principles of Equality and Reciprocity     (2 Corinthians 8:13-15)

8:13      “our goal is not that others take it easy while you are burdened” – Paul didn’t expect, nor does God, that only the congregation in Corinth bear the weight of the Jerusalem offering.   Everyone is called – and ought – to do his/her fair share……as God has blessed that individual.  

“But that there may be equality” – not equal offerings (again, God blesses people materially in differing amounts…..see Jesus’ parable of the Talents in Matthew 25:14-30).   Rather, since God gifts everyone, every person should be a participant in the Lord’s work….and, in this case, in the special offering for Jerusalem.

8:14      “their abundance will also provide what you lack” – The Corinthians’ “abundance” was that they were more blessed materially than the Christians in Jerusalem.   The Jerusalem Christians provided two abundant blessings that the church in Corinth lacked.   First, the former had an abundant “need to be served,” while the latter had the abundance of material resources to serve their brothers and sisters.   Second, the Christians in Jerusalem, as the “mother church,” had sent missionaries throughout the world with the “abundance” of the Gospel….a service which abundantly blessed the Corinthians, among others.

8:15      “The one who gathered much did not have too much, and the one who gathered little did not have too little.”    – Paul is using Exodus 16:18, which speaks about God’s gift to Israel of the miracle bread, manna, while they lived for 40 years in the wilderness, to subtly remind the Corinthians that their material prosperity was not their own doing, but was a gift of God.   What’s more, God’s ability to equalize unequal portions proves His intent to meet the needs of all His children – not necessarily with excess, but always with sufficiency.   (See Matthew 6:33;   Philippians 4:19)

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Please notice across these fifteen verses Paul’s emphasis on God’s grace.   The root term (charis) for grace is used eight times in this chapter and six times in the verses we’ve just studied.   Paul isn’t about to “guilt” the Corinthians into giving offerings;   no one should ever use “guilt” (or other manipulative, or selfish motivations) as a means of getting Christians to give offerings to the Lord.    The gratitude we display in our giving offerings should always have its motivation in the grace of God to us in our Lord Jesus Christ.

Next, to the question we posed earlier in this lesson’s introduction, “Why does Paul bring up the subject of giving now in this context?”

First, Paul speaks of money here because – compared to what nearly all of us think….or at least demonstrate with our actions and attitudes – money actually isn’t that important…..certainly from an eternal perspective, but even from an earthly point of view.   Faith and faithfulness matter FAR more.   Besides, God will provide for all our material needs as He knows best.   Let’s look at what Jesus says in Matthew 6:31-34:   “31 “So do not worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ 32 For the unbelievers chase after all these things. Certainly your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

Next, this matter of the Corinthians’ gift to the poor is directly linked to problems Paul had been addressing at Corinth.   In many ways, it was an important step forward in dealing with many of the wrongs that Paul had pointed out were occurring inside the Corinthian congregation.     There were small, competitive cliques and factions in the church.   Together they could unite in the godly purpose of giving offerings to server the larger body of Christ.   Some members were taking others in the church to secular courts.    (It was probably due to greed.)   So, through this offering the Corinthians could practice sacrificial giving and begin to experience the joy of generosity. Then there were those who were selfishly indulging themselves at the Lord’s Supper, leaving nothing to eat for their fellow Christians.   Participating in this offering was a wonderful way for them to show genuine concern for their struggling, starving brothers and sisters in Judea.  

Third, fulfilling their promise to give to the poor in Jerusalem would pave the way for a happy reunion with Paul and his associates.   Paul had planned on visiting the Corinthians sooner than he ended up visiting them.   In chapters 1 and 2 of this epistle, Paul explained the reasons for his delay in coming to Corinth.   The sins which they  had committed forced Paul to write his painful first letter, which then became an impediment between Paul and the Corinthians.   But now that these saints have responded positively and penitently both to Paul’s letter and to the visit Titus had made, Paul was eager to see them again.   However, there was a potential problem that had to be addressed.    A year earlier the Corinthians had promised to give a generous gift for the poor in Jerusalem.   But Paul had learned that their efforts toward that goal had stopped, or at least had been greatly curtailed.  It would have been very embarrassing both for Paul and for them if the offering collected had been a very small one.  So, here in these chapters Paul gives them a reminder of their promise, so that they could collectively resuscitate that effort and fulfill their promise to the church in Jerusalem and to the Lord.

Finally, their participation in this offering would be an opportunity for the Corinthians to demonstrate their overall repentance and re-commitment to serving God and others.   Repentance, after all, is evidenced by the “fruits of repentance” (see Matthew 3:8).