September 04, 2022     The Twelfth Sunday after Trinity

the Fourteenth Sunday of the Pentecost Season

The Price, Privilege and Purpose of Our Freedom


During the Second World War, in the fall of 1943, Admiral Chester Nimitz, Commander-in-Chief of the

 United States Navy’s Pacific Fleet, selected the island of Tarawa in the Gilbert Islands as the first major objective in his campaign to leapfrog (or island-hop) across the Central Pacific toward the conquest of Japan.   Tarawa lies 2,685 miles southwest of Hawaii and 2,140 miles NNE of Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.   Like most Central Pacific islands, Tarawa is a coral reef atoll.   An atoll is a ring-shaped reef that encloses a lagoon or surrounds an island. At high tide the atoll that protects Tarawa is covered by a mere three feet of seawater – just enough for a shallow-draft craft to pass over.   However, none but the shallowest canoe can cross that reef at low tide.  Tarawa’s tides also are very unpredictable.

            In 1788 the British explorer, Captain Thomas Gilbert, became the first European to sight the island of Tarawa.   It became a part of the British Empire in 1892 and remained a British protectorate until seized by the Japanese in 1942.

            By November of 1943 American forces were ready to spring across the central Pacific. The previous August the United States had wrested the offensive in the Pacific away from Japan with a landing on Guadalcanal.  Two island chains, the Gilberts and the Marshalls were next up in the path of the American advance. Because they were five hundred miles southeast of the Marshalls, the Gilberts had to be neutralized first in order to protect the American flank and eliminate the threat of Japanese interference from the rear during the upcoming operation against the Marshall Islands. The two principal atolls and invasion targets in the Gilberts were the 2 islands farthest west, Makin and Tarawa.

            A very different kind of battle lay in store for the Marines of the 2nd Division who would attack Tarawa. Unlike the rugged mountains and thick jungles of Guadalcanal, Tarawa was a low-lying coral reef with little cover and with an encircling atoll.   Several days before the landing the Marines who would invade were gathered and informed that upwards of  80% casualties were expected in some units.  (Subsequent events would prove those estimates all too accurate!)  The evening before the invasion everyone was quiet.  Men withdrew into their own thoughts and many took time for a word with God.

            Tarawa was a fortress, manned by crack troops backed by an impressive and deadly array of firepower.   Its commander had boasted that a million men could not take Tarawa in a thousand years.   The 5000 Japanese defenders had been barely affected by the pre-invasion aerial and naval bombardments.  They were more than ready to meet the Marines at Tarawa’s water’s edge with a firestorm of cannon, mortar, machine gun and rifle fire.   And they did!   The invasion began at 2:00 a.m. on the morning of November 20, 1943.   Confusion quickly set in as the landing craft became disoriented in the total darkness and strict radio silence.    By the time the first waves finally reached the landing beaches, the early morning high tide had dropped dramatically.   The landing craft of 2 subsequent waves of reinforcing troops were kept from crossing the reef.   The Marines in those craft knew what their mission was.   They had to get to shore to support their brothers who were precariously clinging to a very small and shaky beachhead.   With no other choice available, they jumped out of the Amtracs and Higgins landing craft and began to wade toward shore.    Bravely these men advanced over 600 yards in neck- deep water, into the teeth of deadly, murderous machine gun fire.  Many men died in that water that day.   1,029 American Marines, heroes to the man, gave their lives over the three days it took to seize Tarawa from the Japanese, with just over 3,000 total Marine casualties.   Military historians have said that the only other battle in American military history that matches the peril and intensity of Tarawa’s 72 hours of battle, was the Marines’ and Army’s Battle of the Chosin Reservoir during the Korean War.

            Freedom can only be purchased at an incredibly high price.    79 years ago, in late November, 1943 thousands of brave men of the 2nd Marine Division paid a terrible price to insure our nation’s freedom from tyranny.   Along with many others in that war, as well as in prior and subsequent wars, plus in time of peace, many American military personnel have sacrificed their lives on “the altar of freedom” so that you and I could live in the peace, safety and freedom we enjoy today.    We can – and must – be grateful for their service and sacrifice!

            Nearly 2000 years ago, on a small hill named Golgotha outside the city of Jerusalem, our LORD and Savior, Jesus Christ paid an infinitely more terrible price than those in our nation’s military have, when He laid down His sinless life as the Ultimate Sacrifice on the “altar of Calvary’s cross” as our Substitute in death.  There He purchased  everlasting freedom for every one of us from sin, Satan’s power, and eternal death, and He ensured for us – and for all who believe in Him – salvation, everlasting life, and a guaranteed place in heaven.


Today’s Scripture Lessons   

         In this morning’s Old Testament Lesson and Psalm (Psalm 33) the Psalmist thanks the Lord for the security and prosperity which God has  granted to his nation, especially for the blessings of His redeeming grace.  We certainly can praise Him for that as well.

             Paul’s point in our Epistle Lesson is that we were once slaves to sin, but have been set free from its guilt and curse by the redeeming work of Christ.   

            In today’s Gospel Lesson Jesus debunks the lie prevalent among the Jews that their forgiveness and salvation were certain because of their biological connection to Abraham.  Those blessings are not earned or inherited by us, but are gifts of God’s grace. 

            Our  Children’s Lesson is based on the words of I Peter 2:15-17. We have been freed from the curse of our sins (hell) through Jesus’ life and death for us.  Let’s not use this freedom as an excuse to sin all we want.  Instead, Peter tells us to do and to be good.

            Finally, this morning’s Sermon, is based on Paul’s words of warning and encouragement in Galatians 5 concerning what true Christian Freedom is, and the necessity of our not becoming “slaves” either to legalism or to a libertine (impenitently, recklessly sinful) lifestyle.




            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.




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


Pre-service Silent Prayer     Dear Father in heaven, let me rejoice with my fellow Christians gathered here this morning as we worship You in Your house.   Reassure me of Your love and forgiveness for me as I confess my sins to You today.    Receive my praises and prayers, humble and imperfect though they be.   Renew my faith and Christian life through Your Word.  And then, return me to my appointed calling in this world, invigorated, equipped, and eager to serve You with all that I am and have, until the day when You call me to that heavenly home which You have promised and prepared for me and all believers, through Your Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ.   In His name I pray  Amen.


            The Order of Holy Communion


Silent Prayer                                                                                                                           Pre-service music


The Introduction and Welcome to Worship   


We Praise Our God


The Invocation


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


Opening Hymn                                                                                                                                 Hymn 223

                                                                                                                            “As We Begin Another Week”


  1. As we begin another week, In Jesus’ name your grace we seek:

God, grant that through these seven days   No evil may befall our ways.


  1. Your gentle blessings, Lord, outpour On all our labor evermore;

Our hearts with Your good Spirit fill     That we may gladly do Your will.


  1. In every season, every place, 3. May we recall Your Word of grace

Until, when life’s brief day is past,    We reach eternal joy at last.


  1. And keep with angels in Your rest The endless Sabbath of the blest.

Grant this to us through Christ, Your Son,    Who reigns with You upon Your throne.



After which the Pastor will invite the Congregation to rise as


We Make Confession Of Our Sins To God


Pastor              God, our Heavenly Father, invites us to come into His presence and to worship Him with humble and penitent hearts.  Therefore, let us now turn to Him, acknowledging our sinfulness and seeking His forgiveness for all our sins.


Congregation  Holy and merciful Father,   I confess that I am by nature sinful   and that I have disobeyed You in my thoughts, words, and actions;    I have done what is evil in Your sight   and have failed to do what is

good.    For this I know that I deserve Your punishment, both now and for eternity.     But I am truly sorry for all my sins    and trusting in the perfect life     and innocent death of my Savior, Jesus Christ,     I plead:    God have mercy on me, a sinner.


(Sung)   Lord have mercy on us;   Christ have mercy on us;   Lord, have mercy on us.


Pastor  Our gracious Lord and Master has shown us His mercy:   He has given His one and only Son to save us from all our sins.    And now, having humbly and sincerely confessed your sins before Almighty God, be

strengthened in your faith, mindful that our Lord is not willing that anyone should perish eternally, but that everyone should come to repentance, turning from their evil ways and receiving from Him everlasting life.    God has commanded His ministers to declare His forgiveness of sins to all who are penitent.   Therefore, addressing you as a called servant of Christ,  and according to His command and under His authority,   I forgive you all your sins in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.     May the peace of God rest upon all of you.    Amen.



Glory be to God on high

and on earth peace good will to men.

We praise You, we bless You, we worship You.

We glorify You, we give thanks to You for Your great glory.

O Lord God heavenly King, God the Father almighty.

O Lord, the only begotten Son, Jesus Christ,

O Lord God, Lamb of God, Son of the Father,

You take away the sin of the world.   Have mercy on us.

You take away the sin of the world.   Receive our prayer.

You sit at the right hand of God the Father. 

 Have mercy on us.

For You only are holy.   You only are the Lord.

You only, O Christ, with the Holy Spirit.

Are most high in the glory of God the Father.   Amen



Our Psalm for This Morning                                                                                                             Psalm 33


P:         Sing joyfully to the LORD , you righteous.  The praise of the upright is beautiful.


C:        Thank the Lord with a lyre.    + Make music for Him with  the ten-stringed harp. +  Sing to Him a new song; + play skillfully, and shout praises.


P:         Yes, the word of the LORD is right, and everything He does is trustworthy.   He loves righteousness and justice.  The mercy of the LORD fills the earth.



  • By the word of the Lord the heavens were made. + By the breath of His mouth, He made the army of stars.   +   He gathers the water of the sea into a heap;    + He puts the depths into storehouses.


P:         Let all the earth fear the LORD;   let all the inhabitants of the world revere Him.



  • For He said, “Let it be,” and it was! +    He gave a command,   + and there it stood.




P:         The LORD wrecks the plans of the nations;   He hinders the intentions of the peoples.   The plan of the LORD stands forever.  The intentions of His heart stand through all generations.



  • How blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord , + the people He chose to be His possession.




  • From heaven the Lord observes. He sees all the children of Adam.   From His throne room He looks at all the inhabitants of the earth.  He alone is the One Who shapes all their hearts.  He understands all their deeds.

C:         No king is saved by the great size of his army.   + No hero is rescued by his great strength.   + You cannot rely on a horse to save you.  Its great strength will not deliver you. 




  • Look the eye of the LORD is on those who fear Him, on those who wait for His mercy.   He will deliver their souls from death.   He keeps them alive in famine.



  • Our souls wait for the LORD; +  He is our Help and our Shield.   + Yes, in Him our heart rejoices, +    Because we trust in His holy name.   +   May Your mercy, O LORD, be on us.   even as we wait confidently for You.

after which the Congregation may be seated


We Hear God’s Word


The Epistle Lesson                                                                                                                  Romans 6:15-23


15 What then? Should we continue to sin, because we are not under law but under grace? Absolutely not! 16 Do you not know that when you offer yourselves to obey someone as slaves, you are slaves of the one you are obeying—whether slaves of sin, resulting in death, or slaves of obedience, resulting in righteousness?


17 Thanks be to God that, although you used to be slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to the pattern of the teaching into which you were placed. 18 After you were set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness. 19 (I am speaking in a human way because of the weakness of your flesh.) Indeed, just as you offered your members as slaves to impurity and lawlessness, resulting in more lawlessness, so now offer your members in the same way as slaves to righteousness, resulting in sanctification.


20 For when you were slaves of sin, you were free from righteousness. 21 So what kind of fruit did you have then? They were things of which you are now ashamed. Yes, the final result of those things is death. 22 But now, since you were set free from sin and have become slaves to God, you have your fruit resulting in sanctification—and the final result is eternal life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the undeserved gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.


                        following which the Congregation will rise, out of respect for Jesus for



Today’s Gospel Lesson                                                                                                                 John 8:31-59


31 So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed Him, “If you remain in My word, you are really My disciples. 32 You will also know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”


33 “We are Abraham’s descendants,” they answered, “and we have never been slaves of anyone. How can You say, ‘You will be set free’?”


34 Jesus answered, “Amen, Amen, I tell you: Everyone who keeps committing sin is a slave to sin. 35 But a slave does not remain in the family forever. A son does remain forever. 36 So if the Son sets you free, you really will be free. 37 I know you are Abraham’s descendants. Yet you are looking for a way to kill Me, because there is no place for My word in you. 38 I am telling you what I have seen at the side of the Father. As for you, you do what you have heard at the side of your father.”


39 “Our father is Abraham!” they answered.


“If you were Abraham’s children,” Jesus told them, “you would do the works of Abraham. 40 But now you are looking for a way to kill Me, a Man who has told you the truth, which I heard at the side of God. Abraham did not do this. 41 You are doing the works of your father.”


“We were not born of sexual immorality!” they said. “We have one Father: God.”


42 Jesus replied, “If God were your Father, you would love Me, because I came from God and I am here. Indeed, I have not come on My own, but He sent Me. 43 Why do you not understand My message? It is because you are not able to listen to My word. 44 You belong to your father, the Devil, and you want to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning and did not remain standing in the truth, because there is no truth in him. Whenever he lies, he speaks from what is his, because he is a liar and the father of lying. 45 But because I tell the truth, you do not believe Me. 46 Who of you can convict Me of sin? If I am telling the truth, why don’t you believe Me? 47 Whoever belongs to God listens to what God says. The reason you do not listen is that you do not belong to God.”


48 The Jews responded, “Are we not right in saying that You are a Samaritan and have a demon?”


49 Jesus answered, “I do not have a demon. On the contrary, I honor My Father, and you dishonor Me. 50 I do not seek My own glory. There is One Who seeks it, and He is the Judge. 51 Amen, Amen, I tell you: If anyone holds on to My word, he will certainly never see death.”


52 So the Jews said to Him, “Now we know that You have a demon. Abraham died, and so did the prophets. Yet You say, ‘If anyone holds on to My word, he will certainly never taste death.’ 53 You are not greater than our father, Abraham, are You? He died. And the prophets died. Who do You think you are?”


54 Jesus answered, “If I glorify Myself, My glory is nothing. It is My Father Who glorifies Me, about Whom you say, ‘He is our God.’ 55 Yet you do not really know Him, but I do know Him. If I said, ‘I do not know Him,’ I would be a liar like you. But I do know Him, and I hold on to His word. 56 Your father Abraham was glad that he would see My day. He saw it and rejoiced.”


57 The Jews replied, “You aren’t even fifty years old, and You have seen Abraham?”


58 Jesus said to them, “Amen, Amen, I tell you: Before Abraham was born, I AM.” 59 Then they picked up stones to throw at Him. But Jesus was hidden and left the temple area.



The Nicene Creed


  • I believe in One God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible. And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of His Father before all worlds, God of God,  Light of Light.  Very God of Very God.  Begotten, not made.  Being of one substance with the Father, By Whom all things were made;  Who for us men and for our salvation, came down from heaven   And was incarnate by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary   And was made man;  And was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate.  He suffered and was buried;  And the third day He rose again according to the Scriptures;  And ascended into heaven,  And sitteth on the right hand of the Father;   And He shall come again with glory, to judge both the quick and the dead;  Whose Kingdom shall have no end.   And I believe in the Holy Ghost,  The Lord and Giver of Life,  Who proceedeth from the Father and the Son,  Who with the Father and the Son together is worshiped and glorified,  Who spake by the Prophets.  And I believe one holy Christian and Apostolic Church.  I acknowledge one Baptism for the remission of sins,  And I look for the resurrection of the dead,  And the life of the world to come. 


after which the Congregation will be seated for


The Children’s Lesson                                                                                                                I Peter 2:15-17


15 For this is God’s will: that you silence the ignorance of foolish people by doing good. 16 Do this as free people, and do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but use it as servants of God. 17 Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood.  Fear God. Honor the king.


Use Your Freedom For Good….not Evil


The Hymn of the Day                                                                                                                       Hymn 384

                                                                                             “By Grace I’m Saved, Grace Free and Boundless”


1 By grace I’m saved, grace free and boundless;   My soul, believe and doubt it not.

Why waver at this word of promise?   Has Scripture ever falsehood taught?

So then this word must true remain:    By grace you, too, shall heav’n obtain.


2 By grace God’s Son, our only Savior,   Came down to earth to bear our sin.

Was it because of your own merit    That Jesus died, your soul to win?

No, it was grace, and grace alone,    That brought him from his heav’nly throne.


3 By grace! Oh, mark this word of promise    When you are by your sins oppressed,

When Satan plagues your troubled conscience,   And when your heart is seeking rest.

What reason cannot comprehend    God by his grace to you did send.


4 By grace to timid hearts that tremble,   In tribulation’s furnace tried —

By grace, despite all fear and trouble,    The Father’s heart is open wide.

Where could I help and strength secure    If grace were not my anchor sure?


5 By grace! On this I’ll rest when dying;    In Jesus’ promise I rejoice.

For though I know my heart’s condition,   I also know my Savior’s voice.

My heart is glad; all grief has flown   Since I am saved by grace alone.



The Pre-Sermon Salutation


Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus Christ, our Lord!   May the words of my mouth and the meditation of our hearts be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, our Rock and our Redeemer.  Amen.


The Sermon Text                                                                                                                     Galatians 5:1-12


It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not allow anyone to put the yoke of slavery on you again. 2 Look, I, Paul, tell you that if you allow yourselves to be circumcised, Christ will be of no benefit to you. 3 I testify again to every man who allows himself to be circumcised that he is obligated to do the whole law. 4 You who are trying to be declared righteous by the law are completely separated from Christ. You have fallen from grace.   5 Indeed, through the Spirit, we by faith are eagerly waiting for the sure hope of righteousness. 6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision matters. Rather, it is faith working through love that matters. 7 You were running well! Who cut in on you, so that you are no longer persuaded by the truth? 8 This persuasion is not from the One Who calls you. 9 A little yeast works through the whole batch. 10 I am confident in the Lord that you will have no other opinion than this. But the one who is trying to disturb you will pay the penalty, whoever he is.


11 Brothers, if I am still preaching circumcision, why am I still being persecuted? Then the offense of the cross has been abolished. 12 If only those who are upsetting you would also cut themselves off!


The Price, Privilege  and Purpose of our Freedom


after the Sermon, the Congregation will REMAIN SEATED for


The Post-Sermon Blessing


May our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and God our Father, Who loved us and by His grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, now encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.  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:


the Congregation will  rise as the offerings are brought to the altar


We Offer Our Prayers to the Lord


Today’s Special Prayers


Included in our Prayers today:


An Intercessory Prayer for

Craig Caroll, (a friend of Carol Ann Heinemann).   Craig recently suffered a severe stroke and is recovering in a Dallas hospital



Our Responsive Prayer for Today


Pastor:             Lord God, Almighty Father, You made us the crown of all Your creation, and You graciously preserve us with every good thing, that we may live before You in peace and joy.


Cong:                           You do this all out of pure Fatherly goodness and mercy,   +  and not because we have earned or deserve it;   +   now, for this it is our duty to thank and to praise You,   +  and to gladly offer all that You have given us,   +   especially ourselves, to Your service,   +  and for Your glory.


  1. Lord Jesus Christ, God’s only Son from all eternity, You have redeemed us, lost and condemned sinners, with Your holy, precious blood and You have set us free from all sin, from death, and from the power of the Devil.

C:                                 All this You did to make us Your own,  +  that we may live with You, now and forever,   +  in perfect joy and endless glory.


P:                                 O Holy Spirit, You have called us out of the darkness of unbelief through the Gospel; You have illumined our hearts by the light of faith and joined us into one sanctified family with our Lord Jesus Christ.


C:                                 You have done all this so that we may be filled with the rich gifts of Your grace:   +  an unwavering trust in the true God;   +  the love of Christ that knows no limits;   +   a strong faith to willingly serve and publicly confess You,   +   our God, before all people;   +  and the courage to meet and overcome every trial of life and death.


P:                                 O Triune God, we praise and thank You for all the blessings You have so generously given us, Your unworthy servants. At Your invitation, we now bring all our needs of body and soul to You as we join in praying:


C:                                 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 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 unto the Lord


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


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



Pastor           It is truly good and right that we should at all times and in all places give thanks to You, O Lord, holy Father, almighty,  everlasting God, through Jesus Christ our Lord, Who promised that wherever two

or three come together in His name, there He is with them to shepherd His flock till He comes again in all His glory.   Therefore with angels and archangel, and all the company of heaven, we praise Your holy name and join their glorious song:


(Sung)                                                                                                                                      Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of heavenly hosts.                                     

                                    Heaven and earth are full of Your glory

                                    Hosanna, Hosanna, Hosanna in the highest.

                                    Blessed is He, Blessed is He, Blessed is He

                                    Who comes in the name of the Lord.

                                    Hosanna, Hosanna, Hosanna in the highest.


Consecration of the Elements          


Pastor         The peace of the Lord be with you always.


Congregation – (Sung)              Amen.


O Christ, Lamb of God, You take away the sin of the world;   Have mercy on us.

O Christ, Lamb of God, You take away the sin of the world;   Have mercy on us.

O Christ, Lamb of God, You take away the sin of the world;    Grant us peace.   Amen.



The Exhortation Regarding the Lord’s Supper       (Pastor)


The Distribution of the Sacrament


Distribution Hymns                                                                  Hymn 308   “As Surely As I Live, God Said”


1 “As surely as I live,” God said,    “I would not have the sinner dead,

But that he turn from error’s ways,   Repent, and live through endless days.”


2 To us, therefore, Christ gave command:   “Go forth and preach in ev’ry land;

Bestow on all my pard’ning grace   Who will repent of sinful ways.


3 “All those whose sins you thus remit   I truly pardon and acquit,

And those whose sins you do retain   Condemned and guilty shall remain.


4 “What you will bind, that bound shall be;    What you will loose, that shall be free;

Unto my Church the keys are giv’n    To op’n and close the gates of heav’n.”


5 The words which absolution give    Are his who died that we might live;

The minister whom Christ has sent    Is but his humble instrument.


6 When ministers lay on their hands,    Absolved by Christ the sinner stands;

He who by grace the Word believes    Forgiveness, sure and sweet, receives.


7 Praise God the Father and the Son   And Holy Spirit, Three in One,

As was, is now, and so shall be   Forever and eternally!



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 Sacrament is celebrated, the Congregation to rise


We Leave With The Lord’s Blessing


The Closing Prayer


The Closing Blessing


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.



The Closing Hymn                                                                                                                            Hymn 326 

                                                                                                              “May the Grace of Christ Our Savior”


1 May the grace of Christ our Savior   And the Father’s boundless love

With the Holy Spirit’s favor    Rest upon us from above.


2 So may we abide in union    With each other and the Lord,

Gathered here in blest communion   By the power of his Word.


3 Now with all the saints in heaven   Thanks and praise to You we sing

Father, Son and Holy Spirit   Three in One, our Triune King.


Announcements, Post-service music,  Silent Prayer




Last Week at Grace                        Worship Attendance: 62    Online views: 15           Bible Class: 24    Online views: 4   

Tuesday Bible Study: 11        Budgetary Offerings: $ 3362   Online: $110      Audio/Video: $500

Memorial for Bill Krizsan:   $840 


  • Birthdays this week September 09 – Rod Calkins         September 10 – Barbara Center;


This Coming Week at Grace Lutheran Church

Today            Morning Worship and Communion,  9:30 a.m.     Fellowship: 10:45 a.m.

                       Bible Class and Sunday School, 11:05 a.m.

Tuesday        Bible Class,   10:30-11:30 am    

Saturday        Outreach Visits, 10 a.m.                                         Women’s Group Cleaning Day in the school, 9 a.m.

Sunday          Morning Worship, 9:30 a.m.          Fellowship, 10:40 am              Sunday School/Bible Class 11 a.m.


Serving Us Next Sunday (9-11)       Ushers: James Boatright;   Jim Winnat      Elders:   Richard Tragasz, John Johnson

Altar Guild: Christine Quinlan, Linda Winnat

Fellowship:    Duane and Cynthia Pansegrau              Video: Tim Huebner


Women’s Group Cleaning Day THIS SATURDAY, September 10th.    We’ll meet at 9 a.m. to clean in the classroom building.   For more information, please speak with Karen Swogger.

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)

+ + + + + + + + + + + +

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).   

Keeping Our Commitments

2 Corinthians 8:16-9:15

When bringing your offerings to the Lord, have you ever thought much about the offering made by Ananias and Sapphira, the couple whose death is recorded for us in Acts 5?   Following Pentecost, the growth of the Christian church in Jerusalem was explosive.   As the church grew, a variety of individuals joined the congregation, including  some with significant material needs.   Motivated by Christ’s generous love, the early Church in Jerusalem responded to the needs of the poor among them.  Materially blessed members like Barnabas even sold property, giving the proceeds to the apostles so that they could minister to the needs of the congregation’s poorer members.   As you might recall, Ananias and Sapphira had a piece of property that they decided to sell.   They decided to give  a portion of the proceeds to the church.  The problem with their offering was not that they kept back part of the proceeds of this sale for themselves, but that they lied about the amount they gave to the apostles.   No doubt they were motivated by sinful pride (and competitiveness).  And so both of them agreed that they would tell others that they had given to the church the entire amount they had received from their property’s sale.   The result?   Both of them were struck down dead.   What a lesson their sudden deaths were for the early church – and for Christians today, as well.   As it did for the church in Jerusalem, the story of Ananias and Sapphira should make quite a strong impression on me and you.   Their sin was not the size of their offering, or that they didn’t give the entire proceeds from the sale of their land to the church.   Their sin, simply, was that they brazenly lied about it – to their fellow Christians, and to the Lord!

Let’s suppose, hypothetically-speaking, that given the apparent needs of the church’s poorer members, Ananias and Sapphira had decided to make a contribution to the Jerusalem congregation’s “benevolence fund.”  Like Barnabas and others, they had a piece of property that they could sell.  And so they call on an appraiser to determine its value.  Let’s say that he gives them a value of $100,000.   They put the land up for sale, and announce that they’ll be donating the entire amount to the church.   But right before the property sells, plans for a new retail development are announced.   It’s going in right next to their property.   That developer, as well as another individual investor, both approach Ananias and Sapphira, offering to buy their land.   And before you know it a bidding war occurs.  Our couple ends up getting an offer to sell their property for the astounding amount of $200,000….double what they initially imagined it was worth.   Of course, they accept.   It takes a few weeks to close the deal, and no one knows about it – except the couple and the buyer.   At exactly the same time, Ananias and Sapphira learn about a very valuable piece of property elsewhere that’s available for sale at the bargain price of $100,000.   In a few years it’ll be worth many times that amount.    So, shrewd investors that they are, the couple buys it with half the proceeds from their original property’s sale.   They make $100,000 for themselves, and they can still give their original pledge of $100,000 to the church.    That’s what they decide to do.   But, as Ananias is bringing their $100,000 to the Apostles, someone asks, “Did you get the $100,000 you were asking for the land?”  He says, “of course”….and drops over dead.    Later, Sapphira is asked the same question….says the same thing….and dies the same way.   Both had wanted to look especially generous compared to others in the church.    They wanted everyone to think that they had given it all to the Lord.   But they lied.   And they ended up dying for that lie.

My point in this hypothetical account is that we seldom premeditate such lying and deceit as that seen in the case of Ananias and Sapphira.   Sin often “evolves,” if you will pardon my use of this term.  We don’t plan for things to go the particular way they end up going….like in my fictionalized “addition” to the story of Ananias and Sapphira.  But things happen.   Circumstances change.   And sometimes, promises made to the Lord end up being altered – and even forgotten.    That’s where I think the story of Ananias and Sapphira has a connection with the lesson before us today.   Many members made promise to participate in the special Jerusalem offering.  But later, some of the people in Corinth adjusted their promises.   Circumstances changed.   Apparently some members even decided that they could completely back out of their commitment to the Lord.  

Now, that kind of thing doesn’t ever happen in the church today, does it?    It’s not possible that, on occasion, we might be guilty of the same kind of sin that Ananias and Sapphira were guilty of, right?   We don’t ever want to  appear more faithful, or sound better, or more generous, or more supportive of the church’s work than we actually are, right?    Have there ever been occasions where we’ve gone back on our promises to the Lord because we’ve lost our enthusiasm for a particular church project?    Have we ever become dissatisfied with what’s going on in the church, and then decided we were done supporting it – or at least a certain aspect of the church’s ministry?   

When Paul first brought the Gospel to Corinth, the Holy Spirit brought a number of individuals to faith in Christ.   As new converts to the faith often do, the Corinthians loved Jesus, and their pastor Paul.   And they were enthused about doing the Lord’s work… this case, the benevolent work of materially aiding the “mother church” in Jerusalem as it faced difficult financial times.   They individually pledged that they would give generous gifts for this special Jerusalem offering.   It would take time and effort, but they were bound and determined to do it!

Then circumstances changed.   Perhaps some members might have had a bad year farming or in business, and so their  ability to give may be diminished.   Others might have become discouraged when comparing what they intended to give with the pledges of others, subsequently deciding that since they could only contribute a fraction of what others were giving, they might as well offer nothing at all.   Still others may have been swindled by a  Christian brother and thus were no longer able to give much as they had earlier pledged.   Maybe a different family incurred large medical bills and then decided “for the family’s sake” that they reallocate their promised contribution to pay off those debts.    And there was the individual that decided to use his pledged amount to begin a business, certain that God would prosper him…and that in the years ahead he could give even greater amounts to the church’s work.    Then there were those whose enthusiasm for Paul diminished, partly because he hadn’t come back as quickly as he’d said he would;   and partly because the “super apostles” who came to Corinth after Paul departed had been quite critical of Paul….and these folks believed what was said about him.    Can they trust Paul with their souls anymore?  And if they can’t trust him with their souls, they surely aren’t going to trust him with their money. 

Of course, we don’t know exactly why the Corinthians were faltering and in danger of failing to keep their initial commitment to give to the poor in Jerusalem.    But here’s what we do know:   Initially the Corinthians genuinely intended and promised to contribute to the offering to help the poor in Judea.   They have even begun setting funds aside.    Now, as the time approaches for Paul to return to Corinth, the Apostle realizes that their contribution could fall considerably short of what the Corinthians had promised.   That would prove embarrassing for the Corinthians, and for Paul as well, since he had boasted to others of their generosity…..and now that boast might prove to be an  empty one.   If they were to fail to keep their commitment, they would be sinning.    And so, Paul’s words and actions, recorded in 2 Corinthians 8 and 9, are intended to prevent embarrassment and to encourage the Corinthians to keep their prior commitments…..for their own good……for the good of others……and for the glory of God.

Some Trusted Colleagues Are Going To Precede Paul’s Arrival  (8:16-24)

8:16     “God….put into the heart of Titus” – Titus had developed a good relationship with the Corinthians, and God was moving his heart to serve them.

“the same concern I have” – as partners in the ministry, Paul and Titus often thought and felt the same things.  Titus’ concern here is not about the size of their offering, but the attitude of their hearts.

8:18     “the brother who is recognized by all” – probably Luke, but perhaps Barnabas too.   Regardless, he was someone who was well-known throughout the early church.

8:19     “elected by the churches” – the word in Greek refers to holding up ones hand and voting/selecting.  Paul gives us something important to consider when it comes to which people should handle finances inside a congregation.   They should be individuals well-known, trusted and chosen by the membership.

8:20     “criticism” – It’s important to recognize that not only is God watching, but our brothers and sisters are also watching how the overall ministry is being conducted, so that all work is done in a proper, ethical, and honest manner.

            “lavish gift” – something that is abundant.   Here it refers to a large amount of money.

8:21     “what is proper” – that which is good and fits the occasion.   Paul had been the victim of slander by the “super apostles,” but the integrity of those he was sending as his emissaries was very important.

8:22     “our brother” – we don’t know who this second person was.

            “proved” – to approve something after testing it.

8:23     “my partner and fellow worker”  – Titus was one of Paul’s closest and most trusted associates.   As a member of his “staff,” Titus’ ministry was a vital component of Paul’s work as an apostle.

“sent by the churches” – Paul didn’t hand-pick these individuals, and so he can’t be accused of sending his cronies.   The churches selected these people to serve on their behalf.

“the glory of Christ” – I Corinthians 10:31…..Christians exist so that the Lord might be glorified by all that we do, say and think.  

8:24     “demonstrate why we boasted to them about you” – the word translated “demonstrate” carries with it the idea of giving visible proof.

Paul’s Reason for Sending This Delegation   (9:1-5)


9:1       “it is not really necessary for me to write” – the Greek word translated “necessary” can also be translated  “superfluous.”


“the service to the saints” – This is not our typical “Word and Sacrament” ministry, but a reference to the benevolent/social ministry that the Jerusalem offering was.

9:2       “boasting….to the Macedonians” – the present tense indicates Paul is continually boasting about them.

“Achaia has been ready since last year” – the verb tense is perfect.   That means the preparations have been completed.    Paul didn’t just write 2 Corinthians to the individuals who made up the church inside Corinth, but to the churches throughout Achaia, which would also be participating in this special offering.

            “has stirred up many of them”  – this has excited, or stimulated/motivated them.

9:3       “I am sending the brothers” – the two unnamed bothers, previously mentioned, and certainly Titus as well.

“so that our boasting….will not prove empty” – the verb tense is imperfect….suggesting a repeated action that began in the past and continues into the present.

            “you will be prepared” – the preparation is expected to be thorough.  

9:4       “we (to say nothing of you) would be ashamed” – Paul, as well as the Corinthians, would be humiliated if their offering was not generous.   In Paul’s case, it would be because he spoke so positively about their generosity.   In the Corinthians’ case, it would be because they promised to be generous, but ultimately failed to match their words and actions.

9:5       “to urge the brothers” – to ask, to encourage strongly.

“the expression of praise that you previously promised” – the perfect participle emphasizes a continuing state….namely, that which was promised before and that promise remains valid at the present time.

“not of grudging selfishness” – the word conveys the idea of a greedy, grasping for more at the expense of others.   The idea here is that this gift has not been forced out of them.

Some Guiding Principles to Counter Selfishness   (9:6-15)

9:6       “the one who sows sparingly” – someone who gives in a miserly way.

“reap sparingly” – we receive from God directly in proportion to what we offer Him. 

“generously” – something that is freely and spontaneously given, bringing a blessing to the recipient.  God not only blesses us with forgiveness and salvation through Spirit-given faith in Christ, He also abundantly blesses us with material gifts, our individual talents, personal Spiritual growth experiences, health, and our time of grace (our lifetime) during which we can come to faith in Him and serve Him.

9:7       “Each one should give as he has determined in his heart” – “determine” carries with it the thought of deliberately deciding beforehand.   The giving here isn’t casual, but conscious and thoughtfully committed.

            “God loves a cheerful giver” – Through their faithful, voluntary generosity, God’s children give Him joy.

9:8       “God is able” – the present tense in Greek indicates the continuing ability and willingness of our God to bless His children. 

            “to make all grace overflow” – to have more than enough grace.  

“in all things…at all times…having all that you need” – to have self-sufficiency, being independent of any and all external circumstances.   God can enable each Christian to serve faithful and abundantly.

“you will overflow in every good work” – the less a person wants for him-/herself, the more that individual is able to meet the needs of others.

9:9       “As it is written” – Psalm 112:9 praises the believer who fears/respects the Lord and who is generous to his/her neighbors.

“He gave to the poor” – the word translated “poor” describes the person for whom life and living is a struggle – the reverse of the man who lives in comfort and affluence.

9:10     “He Who provides seed to the sower” – God is the Provider of everything we have….something we sometimes forget.

            “will provide and multiply” – to supply plentifully.

“and increase the harvest” – “increase” in the sense of causing something to grow into an abundant harvest of righteous living…which, in this case, is evident through benevolence.

“of your righteousness” – Our righteousness before God is the result of Christ’s holiness applied to us.   The righteous deeds we do, then, are not the cause of our good status before God, but the consequence of (and our response to) having been granted that status by God’s grace.

9:11     “You will be made rich in every way” – We’ll have all that we need, and more.

            “which produces thanksgiving to God” – how thankful are you?

9:12     “the administration of this service” – the Greek word for “service” was often used in the sense of wealthy individuals who served the public by financing choruses and other productions.   Here, it indicates “freewill religious service.”

            “not only making up for what is lacking” – filling up, or adding to that which is deficient.

“overflowing in many prayers of thanksgiving to God” – this special offering has a twofold purpose: 1) it supplies what poorer brethren lack;   and 2) and offers praise and thanks to God.   Consequently, the effect of the Corinthians’ generous giving will extend beyond benefitting the saints in Jerusalem, since it will also favorably affect and encourage many congregations.

9:13     “many people are glorifying God”  – “glorifying” in the sense of causing others to think well of God.

            “your confession of the Gospel” – The word in Greek carries with it the idea of a strong conviction.

9:14     “At the same time as they pray for you” – a special petition or intercession.

“the extraordinary measure of God’s grace given to you” – extraordinary means “to surpass expectations.”  The Corinthians would be responding to the grace God has shown to them by their exceeding generosity.

9:15     “His indescribable gift” – an inability to describe or account for in any kind of detail.   God’s exquisite working cannot be described with human words.   As the “chief giver” our God gave us His Son to be our Savior – a gift and blessing we obviously don’t deserve.   All Christian giving is a response to God’s initial and dominant generosity to us Spiritually, as well as materially.

Paul is coming to Corinth. There is no doubt about that. But he is not coming immediately. Instead, he is sending this epistle along with several of his most trusted associates. Paul names one of the delegation he is sending to Corinth, a name which they will immediately recognize and rejoice over—Titus. Titus has already been to Corinth on what appears to be more than one occasion.53 Paul speaks very highly of Titus. It is true that Titus is coming to Corinth (probably bearing this epistle) at Paul’s request and others (note “our appeal” in 8:17). But Paul wants them to know that the coming of Titus is his desire as well. He is not coming begrudgingly dragging his feet all the way. Titus is as eager to come personally as Paul and others are to send him.

In a momentary aside, I want to draw your attention to the wonderful picture Titus provides us of the willing service of the Christian. Just as Paul sends Titus on this mission, God instructs us by His Word. He gives us orders, as Paul and his colleagues instructed Titus to go back to Corinth. This “duty” is also a “delight” to Titus, as our “duties” should be a “delight” to us. When “duty” is a “delight,” we find our service not burdensome, but a source of great joy.

Titus is not the only one who is being sent to Corinth. Along with him, there is “the brother whose fame in the things of the gospel has spread through all the churches” (verse 18). As you might expect, there is a fair bit of speculation as to who this “brother” might be. Luke is one suggestion. I would think Apollos might be another. It is clear that God did not want us to know who this man is, and it does not matter in the least. What we do know is that this man’s qualifications are impeccable. All the churches know of him and regard him highly. By the description Paul gives us, this man seems to be a teacher of the Scriptures. From what we know of Titus (see the Book of Titus as well), it seems this is his role also.

Yet another man is referred to in verse 22, the “brother, whom we have often tested and found diligent in many things …” Most commentators see this as a third member of the delegation. I am at least inclined to wonder if this fellow is not Titus, who is once again named in verses 23 and 24. Titus certainly was “found diligent in many things” (verse 22), and after his return from Corinth was “even more diligent” (verse 22; compare 7:13-15). Regardless of whether there are two or three men in this delegation, it is apparent that all of them are men of the highest caliber and reputation. To use the greeting card company’s expression, Paul “cared enough to send the very best.”

One cannot help but wonder why this delegation was sent ahead of Paul. Why is such an esteemed group necessary? It seems the purpose is at least two-fold. First, these men are sent to facilitate the financial follow-through Paul calls for in chapters 8 and 9. Paul urges the Corinthians to complete what they have purposed and promised to give, which they have actually begun to set aside. These men are sent to help the Corinthians do so. This is likely done by teaching and exhortation, which at least two of the men are gifted to do. Further, if the Corinthians’ failure in following through with their initial commitment is due to the false apostles’ erroneous teaching, these teachers of the truth will correct the errors and thus bring the Corinthians back to the truth, back to the gospel, and back to the grace of God which motivates grace giving.

The second role this delegation plays is to insure the integrity of this financial transaction. It is safe to say that the “false apostles” in Corinth are lining their own pockets. (This is probably where some of the absent funds are going.) Paul and his apostolic colleagues are absolutely scrupulous about money matters. They want to give no opportunity for any questions to be raised, any doubts to be created as far as how the funds are collected, kept, and distributed. How often money is the reason a given ministry or minister becomes discredited. Paul does not leave this matter to chance. These men are of the highest reputation, so that all will know the funds are all being used as promised and purposed.

A number of Christian organizations have joined organizations like the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (EFCA), a group which sets standards for its members to assure the donors to its member organizations that their monies are being used wisely. The Elders of CBC have given thought to joining this organization, but have decided otherwise, simply because we are not a large organization and because the costs and some procedures are prohibitive. We would say to you, however, that we have given very careful thought to our financial procedures and practices to avoid any appearance of sloppiness or misuse of funds. It was pointed out to us that only one person counts the offering each Sunday. We now have the offering counted twice, by two different people. This is not because we distrust anyone. (In fact, this is why we never thought of having two people count the offering.) But by doing this, we protect those who handle our funds from any accusation, and we protect the integrity of our ministry.

Lest anyone think this delegation is only representing Paul and his colleagues, Paul adds that these men were “a glory to God” and “messengers of the churches” (8:23). I wonder if this delegation was not a kind of team which met various needs in the Corinthian church. I am inclined to think that at least one of these men had some accounting skills. We know that one of the men was appointed to accompany the gift collected in Corinth and the other churches to Jerusalem (8:19). Thank God for such people, who are so meticulous in knowing where and how monies are spent. I am tempted to think that as these men “went over the books” of the Corinthian church (if indeed there were such books), they found serious discrepancies. If and when such discrepancies were discovered, the action which Paul calls for in the next chapter would be more than apparent.

But mainly, I believe Paul sent the best men available so the Corinthian saints would have every possible advantage to follow through with their earlier commitment. I do not believe Paul’s only motive was the “great need” which existed in Jerusalem. (Indeed, it is noteworthy that Paul, unlike many fund-raisers today, did not even describe the need in Jerusalem in this epistle.) I believe Paul greatly desired a generous gift from the Corinthians because of the blessing it would be for them. Because it is truly “more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35), then facilitating a generous gift on the part of the Corinthians is seeking their highest good. How different this attitude is from the religious hucksters, who view the saints as “easy victims” who deserve to be parted from their money.

Paul’s Reason for Sending This Delegation


1 For it is superfluous for me to write to you about this ministry to the saints; 2 for I know your readiness, of which I boast about you to the Macedonians, namely, that Achaia has been prepared since last year, and your zeal has stirred up most of them. 3 But I have sent the brethren, that our boasting about you may not be made empty in this case, that, as I was saying, you may be prepared; 4 lest if any Macedonians come with me and find you unprepared, we (not to speak of you) should be put to shame by this confidence. 5 So I thought it necessary to urge the brethren that they would go on ahead to you and arrange beforehand your previously promised bountiful gift, that the same might be ready as a bountiful gift, and not affected by covetousness.

In one sense, it is unnecessary for Paul to write to the Corinthians about making a contribution. After all, he is not trying to sell the idea to them, because the Corinthians have been committed to making a contribution for at least a year. While Paul has written to the Corinthians of the Macedonians’ generosity, it is not as though the Corinthians are so reluctant to give that Paul has to use the generosity of these poor saints to spur the church at Corinth into action. In fact, Paul has spoken to other churches concerning the Corinthians’ generosity, just as he has written to the Corinthians concerning the Macedonians.

That, indeed, is a good part of the problem. Paul has actually boasted to other churches about the generosity of the Corinthians, based upon their initial enthusiasm of making a contribution to the poor. Corinth is a major city of the region of Achaia. When Paul spoke to the other churches of Achaia about the generosity of the Corinthians, they also promised to make a contribution. And their contributions have already been collected, awaiting the arrival of Paul and/or others to transport the monies to Jerusalem. This creates an embarrassing situation for Paul. The churches of Achaia have their offerings ready to collect, but the church he uses as a good example of generosity is not ready with their contribution. The Macedonians who will be coming with Paul to collect the Corinthian contribution will be appalled, Paul’s boasting will prove to be vain, and both he and the Corinthians will be embarrassed.

This is the reason Paul takes the decisive action of sending the delegation to Corinth ahead of him. He does not want the Corinthians to fail in this area. They have already repented of other wrongs; now let them make good on their promise to give to the poor. Time is short, but with the encouragement and facilitating gifts of this delegation, the Corinthians still have time to make good on their promise.

Guiding Principles to Counter Greed


6 Now this I say, he who sows sparingly shall also reap sparingly; and he who sows bountifully shall also reap bountifully. 7 Let each one do just as he has purposed in his heart; not grudgingly or under compulsion; for God loves a cheerful giver. 8 And God is able to make all grace abound to you, that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed; 9 as it is written, “HE SCATTERED ABROAD, HE GAVE TO THE POOR, HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS ABIDES FOREVER.” 10 Now He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food, will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness; 11 you will be enriched in everything for all liberality, which through us is producing thanksgiving to God. 12 For the ministry of this service is not only fully supplying the needs of the saints, but is also overflowing through many thanksgivings to God. 13 Because of the proof given by this ministry they will glorify God for your obedience to your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for the liberality of your contribution to them and to all, 14 while they also, by prayer on your behalf, yearn for you because of the surpassing grace of God in you. 15 Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!

The last words of verse 5 inform us of one of the principle problems at Corinth (and elsewhere) which adversely impacts grace giving: covetousness. Here, Paul says he has sent the brethren so they can assist the Corinthians in arranging beforehand their previously promised gift, which is not affected by covetousness. Covetousness is the illicit desire to have what belongs to another. Generosity is the godly desire for others in need to have what I possess. One cannot be covetous and generous at the same time. And so Paul turns our attention to those guiding principles concerning generosity which counter covetousness in the closing verses of chapter 9.

The first governing principle of sowing and reaping can be stated very simply: The way you sow is the way you reap.

There is a sense in which we should “give away” our excess material possessions to the poor and expect nothing from them in return. It is also true that when we do so, we know we will be rewarded by our Lord for our generosity in heaven:

17 He who is gracious to a poor man lends to the LORD, And He will repay him for his good deed (Proverbs 19:17).

12 And He also went on to say to the one who had invited Him, “When you give a luncheon or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, lest they also invite you in return, and repayment come to you. 13 But when you give a reception, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, 14 and you will be blessed, since they do not have the means to repay you; for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous” (Luke 14:12-14).

In introducing the principle of sowing and reaping here in our text, Paul informs us that giving away some of what we have is the means by which God provides more for us to give. The one who sows sparingly, reaps sparingly. The one who sows bountifully, reaps bountifully. According to the principle of sowing and reaping, to give generously is the way to have an abundant return. The key to sowing bountifully is to delight in doing so. The reason we sow sparingly is because we sow begrudgingly. What we enjoy doing (giving generously), we do more abundantly. What we dislike intensely, we avoid. And so Paul urges the Corinthians to give generously, out of a heart filled with gratitude and joy.

Some people simply do not enjoy being generous. It causes them great pain to give up more of what they possess in order to bestow it upon someone who needs it more than they do. Once I suggested to a friend who was dying that she give away some of her possessions while she was alive, so that she could enjoy the act of giving while she was still alive. I had seriously misjudged the situation. This woman did not want to give anything away before she died, because she found no pleasure in giving. Only after her death, when she could keep her possessions no longer, would she reluctantly will them to someone else. How sad.

Giving generously is not only to be an act of joy, it must also be an act of faith. Let’s face it, when we give generously to the poor, it would seem there is no way we will ever see anything in return. But Paul introduces a second principle of giving: When we sow generously, God allows us to reap bountifully, so that we may be able to give even more.

Giving generously is giving graciously. When we show grace to others by giving generously, God replenishes our grace, so that we have yet more to give (verse 8). God graciously provides for us to be gracious, as we exercise grace toward others in generosity. It is He who “supplies and multiplies our seed for sowing” (verse 10).

Like most spiritual principles, this principle is just the opposite of what we would naturally think and practice with regard to generosity. We believe we can show generosity to others only after we have obtained all that we think we need for ourselves. I am willing to give to others, once I am assured that I have enough for myself. But I never quite reach the point where I think I have enough for myself, and so I keep postponing my generosity to others. Paul tells me that I must first be generous to others, and then after I have sown generously, God will cause me to reap in abundance, so that I may give even more. I must give joyfully and in faith, looking to God to provide for my own needs, as well as for my continuing generosity to others.

As I consider this principle of sowing and reaping, I am reminded of the story of Elijah and the Gentile widow of Zarephath, as recorded in 1 Kings 17. This woman was not given an abundance of food and then instructed to feed Elijah. She was virtually out of food and was instructed to give first to the prophet, and then to trust God to provide for her and her son. This woman’s provisions were always running out. She seemed to be taking food from the mouth of her child in order to first feed Elijah. But in generously giving to Elijah, she found that God provided for her needs and those of her son. We must not wait until we have plenty and then give to those in need, but we must give what we have to give, trusting God to provide for our own needs.

In verse 9, Paul cites Psalm 112:9: “He scattered abroad, He gave to the poor, His righteousness abides forever.” This psalm describes the righteous man’s generosity as sowing or scattering seed abroad. It is the basis for the imagery Paul employs in 1 Corinthians 9:6. This Psalm speaks not only of the righteous man, but of The Righteous Man, our Lord Jesus Christ, the Messiah. This psalm, like so many others, moves from the godly man to The Godly Man. Only our Lord Jesus Christ is righteous. And so in the midst of describing what a righteous man looks like, the psalmist turns to the Lord Jesus Christ, showing Him to be the standard-bearer for generosity to the poor. Whatever Paul has called upon us to do with regard to the poor, it is in the final analysis only imitating our Lord.

The imagery of sowing and reaping is further refined by this third principle: When we sow generously, what we reap is far more than monetary.

Frankly, the religious hucksters are not entirely wrong in what they say or imply. When we give generously to God, God is generous to us in return. But the hucksters are wrong when they imply that God prospers us so that we may indulge ourselves. Paul indicates that God is generous to us so that we may be able to give generously to others. Paul also differs from the “good life gospeleers” in that he does not speak only of material benefits and blessings. Paul teaches us that we reap God’s blessings in a number of forms.

We reap God’s blessings as a harvest of righteousness (verse 10). Giving to the poor is not only what God does (Psalm 112:9, cited above in verse 9), it is what God requires and desires of us (see Romans 12:13; Galatians 2:10; 1 Timothy 6:17-19; Hebrews 13:16; James 1:27). When we give to those in need, it is regarded by God as a spiritual sacrifice, pleasing in His sight (Philippians 4:18; Hebrews 13:16). And thus, gracious giving not only demonstrates the grace of God, it is regarded by God as an act of righteousness, inspired and enabled by His grace.

Furthermore, generous giving to the needs of the saints produces the fruit of praise and thanksgiving to God. When needy saints receive a generous gift from fellow-believers, whom they do not even know by name, they recognize that God is the ultimate source of the gift. And so they respond with thanksgiving and praise to God for His grace in their lives (verse 11). Gracious giving does far more than just meet a physical need; it is the source of many thanksgivings to God. Now that, my friend, is reaping abundantly!

Generous giving did something else for the recipients which was very important. Those in need were not just “the poor”; they were the poor in Jerusalem and Judea (Acts 24:17; see Acts 11:27-30; Romans 15:24-27). These were the Jewish saints who had great difficulty accepting the fact that Jesus Christ came to save both Jews and Gentiles to make them one in Him (see Luke 4:16-30; Acts 10-11; 22:22). The generous contribution of Gentile saints is proof that their profession of faith is genuine, and their unity in Christ is real. Because of this, the Jewish saints glorified God.

Giving to the needs of others produces spiritual blessings for the giver as well (verse 14). This financial gift bonded the Jewish saints in Jerusalem and Judea with the Gentile saints abroad. Because of this, the prayers of the poor Jewish saints not only expressed praise and thanksgivings to God, but also petitions for the well-being of the Gentile saints who had given to them.

I would have to say from experience, both as a giver and as a recipient, that giving to those in need creates a very special bond. I graduated from seminary a good number of years ago now, and I think it is safe to say that those relationships which continue are often those which involved the exchange of money. It is no wonder that the Greek term koinonia is used for the sharing of funds in the New Testament (see, for example, Romans 12:13; 15:27; Galatians 6:6; Philippians 4:15). What a way to demonstrate our unity—by sharing with the saints.

The final and fourth principle regarding generosity is recorded in verse 15 and may be summed up this way: No matter how generous our giving to others might be, it pales in insignificance when compared to the ultimate generosity of God, who saved us through the sacrifice of His Son. Paul is never far from the cross of Christ, even in a matter which seems as mundane as money. The gift of the Corinthians is but a drop in the bucket when compared to the gracious gift of salvation. The gift of salvation should never cease to produce awe, wonder, and gratitude. Our gifts to others should be a kind of commemoration of the gift of God in Christ. Our generosity is rooted in the generosity of our God in the person of our Savior, Jesus Christ:

9 For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich (2 Corinthians 8:9).

I am amazed at the lengths to which Paul is willing to go to promote godliness in the Corinthian church. How easy it would have been to write this bunch off as a bad investment. Instead, Paul has written them on a number of occasions, he has sent others to minister to them, and now he is sending a delegation of men to help the Corinthians do what they should do. Giving to the poor is not only good for the poor, it is good for those who give to them. Paul wants what is best for these saints, and he is willing to sacrifice personally in order to facilitate their good. You may remember that these were very difficult days for Paul in Macedonia, and the presence of those with Paul is a source of great comfort and encouragement (see 2 Corinthians 7:5-7). Rather than keep these men by his side to comfort and encourage him, he sends them on to Corinth to promote their godliness.

This text says much to those who are would-be donors, but it also speaks to those who may be the recipients of financial gifts from fellow-believers. First, it should remove any feelings of guilt or embarrassment for receiving from others. Giving is certainly intended to be a blessing to the recipient, but it is also to be a blessing for the donor. Have you benefited from the generosity of the saints? Be grateful for it. Praise God for it. Pray for those who have given to you. And don’t feel guilty for being a source of blessing to those who have given to you.54

Our text says a great deal about the way we should raise funds and the way funds should be handled by the church. Paul’s appeal for funds is done in a way which does not appeal to the flesh, but rather in a way that depends upon the work of the Holy Spirit and the Word of God. He does not employ guilt or greed as motives for giving, but rather the grace of God. The way funds are raised, handled, and distributed should mark the Christian apart from others and must avoid any questions concerning propriety. It is my opinion that much of the fund-raising done by religious organizations today falls far short of the standard set in our text.

I am impressed, once again, by Paul’s “team” approach in ministry to the Corinthians. There is a saying that goes like this: “If you want the job done right, you have to do it yourself.” Paul does not believe this at all. I sincerely believe Paul sent the delegation described in our text because he was certain they, as a team, could do a better job than he could have done alone. Paul had done what he could. He had written them a letter, he continued to pray for them, and he sent the team of men best suited to do the job which was needed in the Corinthian church. Paul was not a “one man army,” as were the “false apostles” at Corinth, who wanted to “own” their own group of devotees.

We should also learn a lesson from our text concerning the currently popular concept of “accountability.” Paul is very careful to hold the Corinthians accountable for the things they have purposed and promised. Paul holds their feet to the fire to complete the collection for the poor. He does all he can to encourage and facilitate their completion of this ministry. He also sees himself and the other apostles as accountable to the churches regarding the raising, collecting, and distribution of funds for the poor. The interesting thing to me is that the church at Corinth, as a church, is accountable not only to Paul and to the other true apostles, but to the delegation Paul sends. Paul sends a delegation of outsiders to Corinth to expose problems, to teach the Scriptures, to complete a collection, and to supervise the transfer of funds. In our day, when individual local churches pride themselves for being “autonomous,” we may need to step back and re-think our position. Here is a local church, accountable to the apostles and to a delegation which is sent to help them deal with their problems. There may be things wrong in our church which are obvious to an outsider, but to which we are blind. Let us give serious thought to how we practice our accountability to the larger body of Christ.

This text has something to say to those who excuse their failure to give because they think they do not have enough funds to give to others. First, giving to the poor is not just for those who have much to give, but for all those who have more. To use an analogy our Lord employs, when we see a brother who has no coat, we don’t have to own a coat factory; all we need is two coats (see Luke 3:11). The reason we may not have the means to give to the poor is because we have not sown from that which we have in order to reap more to give. We, like the widow who cared for Elijah, may need to give first to those in need, and then look to God to supply our needs. There is a difference here between faith and folly, but to the unbelieving, all faith is folly.

Finally, our text has some remarkable parallels to the second coming of our Lord. Paul has been to Corinth, where he has proclaimed the gospel and many have come to faith. In his absence, he has written several letters and sent others to minister to them. He has promised to return to them, and his return appears to have been delayed. Now, he is soon to come, and he does not want the Corinthians caught by surprise, not really ready for his return, and thus embarrassed by his coming. This is the reason Paul writes to them and sends this delegation to prepare the way for his return. He wants his return to be a joyful reunion.

Our Lord has come to this earth and proclaimed the gospel. He has departed by His resurrection and ascension, but He assures us that He is coming again. He does not want us to be caught unaware and unprepared. He wants us to be ready for His return so that our reunion will be a joyful one, rather than an occasion for embarrassment. And so He has left us with His Word and with other gifted saints, all of whom are to encourage and equip us to live godly lives, so that when He returns we will be found ready. What a joyful time that will be if we are ready and waiting. Are there things which need to be done beforehand? Then let us tend to them now, quickly, before He returns, so that our reunion may be a joyful one.

If you have not yet trusted in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins and the gift of eternal life, you are not ready for our Lord’s return. The time for repentance is now. Now is the time God has allowed for you to turn in faith to the Lord Jesus Christ, trusting in His death, burial, and resurrection on your behalf, so that your sins might be forgiven and you may receive God’s gift of eternal life. Do not delay! Time is short! Trust in Him for salvation, and then live in a way that you will not be ashamed at His return.

53 Titus was there a year before to help the Corinthians “make a beginning” in their gift to the poor (8:6). He was also just there and had recently returned to Paul with a good report about them (7:6-7). These seem to be two different visits, and it is possible there were others. The return of Titus to Corinth would therefore appear to be his third visit to this city.

54 There are those who abuse the generosity of others, and there are texts which deal with this sin (see 2 Thessalonians 3:6-15), but that is not the topic of our text.