Throughout our ministry, we have often spent time with people who recently lost a loved one. Invariably, the conversation turns to the last time they saw that person and the last words that had been spoken. Sometimes, their parting words gave them a sense of peace or calm, while other times those words became an additional part of the grief they would always remember.
We drop kids off at school, send them off to college, leave work at the end of the day, and say goodbye to people at church we won’t see again until the following Sunday. Our parting words can be brief and unimportant or sometimes full of careful thought or planning, depending on the situation.
Last Sunday I was talking to our Sunday School director about their “kids” when he mentioned that his son-in-law ran a roofing company. I told them that was good to know while hoping I would never need to know!
About twelve hours later a large storm roared through Tyler and the morning light revealed a downed tree and a lot of shingles in our yard. I sent an early email to them and the roof will be repaired this afternoon. God is so good.
A random “goodbye” statement at church wasn’t so random at all.
Paul’s parting words
Paul wrote his letter to the church in Corinth carefully. In the first century a letter required parchment, ink, and a great deal of thought and care. Paul didn’t have a “delete” key on a computer to quickly erase words he no longer wished to say. He would have planned and possibly practiced a sentence before recording it on the valuable parchment. He, or whoever was recording his words, wrote his letters knowing they would be shared often, with many churches and people in the region. It was important they were thoughtful and well done.
Paul was a pastoral parent to the Christian churches he helped to establish. Like any good parent or pastor, he taught his people what they needed to know and then worked to remind them of what they had been taught. One of Paul’s deepest concerns for his young churches was false teachers, men who claimed to be apostles yet taught a message contrary to the truth. The people in the church were impressed with these men’s oratory and therefore lacked discernment for the actual truth of what was being said or taught.
We have two of Paul’s letters to Corinth, but we are missing at least two. Apparently, Paul had written a very angry letter to the church at some point that occurred between the two letters we have in Scripture.
Paul was willing to be angry when necessary, especially when the truth of the gospel message was being harmed. Many of our preachers today share a similar anger. It is hard to see the people in the church choose to believe, truly believe, something that the Bible teaches against.
Why is truth essential to the future of the church?
Last week, our ministry was blessed by hundreds of people who chose to donate on North Texas Giving Day. Not everyone understands why Denison Ministries exists and what our purpose in ministry truly is. In many ways, we write for the same reasons Paul wrote to those first-century churches. Our page on the North Texas Giving Day site simply reads, “Take a stand for God’s truth.”
Our purpose for all we do is to provide biblical truth to as many people as possible for their daily choices. We have existed for almost fifteen years, and we are amazed at the profound changes in our culture and government that have occurred in that short time. We knew it was time to carefully proclaim biblical truth to our culture, but we had no idea fifteen years ago all that would take place.
But God knew.
The greatest threat to the Christian church has always been false teaching. In some of the final words of 2 Corinthians, Paul wrote, “For we cannot do anything against the truth, but only for the truth. For we are glad when we are weak and you are strong. Your restoration is what we pray for” (2 Corinthians 13:8–9).
Truth was essential in Paul’s day, during the Reformation Era, and remains an essential goal for the church for all time. Please know how grateful we are to those of you who help us speak biblical truth to our culture. We began our ministry praying to lead God’s people to a renewed relationship with God and to help the church seek revival and awakening among their people. Paul prayed for the restoration of Corinth, and we pray for the restoration of the church in America.
How can we pray for our churches today?
- Dedication to biblical truth
- The original apostolic message of salvation in Christ
- The power of the gospel to save
- Biblical marriage values
- The biblical standards for our daily choices
- Making choices God can bless, or accepting that God must discipline
- The One true God and Jesus, the one true “way” for the salvation of all
All Christians need to know that faith doesn’t work apart from God’s word of truth.
It never has.
The three blessings of a restored, biblical faith
Paul’s closing words to Corinth at the end of his letter spell out the three blessings Paul wanted for those in the church. His parting words would display his heart for them and his passion for their faith. Paul wanted the church to be filled with rich blessings.
So, Paul reminded them of the singular power and purpose of the Godhead, the holy Trinity. He said, “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all” (2 Corinthians 13:14).
Paul describes a blessed life as:
- Confident of the grace that provides our salvation through Jesus Christ
- Abundantly overflowing with the love of God for oneself and others
- Maintaining a continual fellowship with God through the voice and guidance of the Holy Spirit
Paul chose his parting words to the church in Corinth because his great desire was for them to live with truth and faith God would be able to bless.
If Paul wrote a letter to us . . .
What would Paul tell us to change? Repent of? Be restored to? What would revival look like today?
We are in many ways like the church in Corinth. We need biblical morality. We need an insistence on the original apostolic teaching. We need careful concern for others. We need to be restored so that God can bless us with his grace, love, and fellowship.
God wants to bless his people. Thank you so much for helping us send biblical truth to a culture that needs God’s restoration and blessing. We are praying for renewal, awakening, and revival in our churches so that others will want to know and receive the blessings God wants to give. We will continue to speak God’s biblical truth and pray for those blessings to come.