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Wednesday, April 22, 2015

The Forgiveness Factor (part 6): The Triumph of Forgiveness

The word we use that describes completion or achievement is “triumph.” We may even imagine a bit of a party going on. When one turns from sin, forgiveness can be given--that’s worth celebrating. Relationships are be restored. Animosity is ended. Paul’s ministry to the church in this second letter has been the correction of the wrong ideas regarding forgiveness. Now he reminds them of two occasions that serve as models for them.

“When I came to Troas to preach the gospel of Christ, even though a door was opened for me in the Lord, my spirit was not at rest because I did not find my brother Titus there. So I took leave of them and went on to Macedonia.” [2 Cor 2:12-13 ESV]

CONCERN FOR THE LOST

Paul first reminds them of his concern for the lost “When I came to Troas to preach the gospel of Christ, even though a door was opened for me in the Lord. Acts 16 gives the details of Paul’s ministry and how the Spirit of Jesus directed his ministry. Troas was the place of the Macedonian vision, showing his sensitivity to his commission and specifically about where and to whom he was to speak. Paul is underscoring to the Corinthians the sincerity of his ministry.

The church in Corinth had a problem of closing the door against people by not helping them experiencing the joy of forgiveness found in the gospel. They closed the door first on the forgiveness of God. The man repented and the man was left outside, in sorrow. They held his sin against him. They closed the door second on the faithfulness of God. Paul moved when God said “move.” He closed his previous letter stating that he would come “if the Lord wills.” The Lord did not will, and the church shut him out, holding his absence against him. Paul’s greatest joy was talking about Christ, taking advantage of every opportunity--if he could not come back to Corinth, he would continue in other places!

Here’s our “take away” from Paul at this point: If we are faithful to open our mouths for the sake of Christ and the gospel, he will open the hearts of those who hear. When did you last pray that God would give you an open door for the gospel? When did you last pass through the open door?

CONCERN FOR HIS TEAM

Second, Paul reminds them of his concern for his team: “I had no rest in my spirit, not finding Titus my brother. So I took leave of them and went on to Macedonia.” This is something to love about Paul--he was not a one man wolf pack; rather, he was accountable. He had no difficulty confronting strangers with the gospel of Christ, but he did not want to do it alone. 

There is another aspect of Paul’s statement here. 1 Cor 16 says that Paul was sent Timothy to Corinth and was to report back. Timothy’s visit did not go so well, so (as we will see later in this epistle) Paul sent Titus. Paul’s distress is that he has no news from Corinth! Paul demonstrates deep concern for the growth and life of this church--but he had to keep moving because the Spirit was moving.

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