2 Corinthians 13:5-14
Restoration Is What We Pray For
We have reached the end of Paul’s correspondence to the Corinthian Church. I never realized when I started how much of Paul’s heart would be on display in this letter. In this passage we see what he cared about most for these Corinthians as he closes his letter—and that is quite simply, their restoration; and not to him, mind you, but unto the Lord. And so, he begins insisting that they test or examine themselves to see if Christ is in them or if they fail the test. And why would Paul urge them to do this? Because, as he says a few lines down, “Your restoration is what we pray for.” Through self-examination, we test ourselves to see if we be of the faith and if there is any sin that is getting the better of us. We then repent of that sin and turn seeking reconciliation with our God. I agree that too much of this may lead to that activity sometimes designated by that ugly term, “navel gazing,” and too much introspection can lead to an unhealthy preoccupation with self. But such people who are over much concerned about their salvation seem fewer to me than those who never entertain a doubt about it. God desires and requires our full and complete restoration and devotion.
Paul then says something that is a favorite line of mine: “For we cannot do anything against the truth, but only for the truth.” Now he might have been saying that as men obedient to Christ, of course they would never do anything against the truth. But I think that more is implied. Truth is a mountain. It just sits there. You can turn around and go the other way, or you can even pretend it isn’t there. But nothing is going to change the fact that the mountain is there staring you and everyone else right in the face. That is what truth is like. You can deny it, fight against it, or hate it, but in the end, it sits there just as stubborn as ever. And that’s what I love about truth. And we know who is the truth (and way, and life, John 14:6). And any real restoration must be in the truth of the gospel, in the truth of His word; that is, there can be no restoration without truth which issues in confession and repentance from sin and love of God.
Paul then closes exhorting this church to restoration with one another, which will issue in peace, a fruit of the Spirit they sorely lacked. And please note the Trinitarian benediction at the end: “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.” What more does the Christian need then the love of the Father, the grace of Christ, and the fellowship of the Spirit? We may thus go about our day with complete confidence in that benediction—that good word—that blessed life.