Final Warnings Exhortations and Encouragements

Pastor Tom Ascol finishes his series on 2 Corinthians covering Chapter 13 in a message entitled “Final Warnings, Exhortations, and Encouragements.” Paul’s pointed and personal words here to a troubled church, the result of his deep love for the Corinthians, remain applicable to the church today.

True Christians live by the power of the gospel, the beginning point of which is trusting the Lord Jesus Christ in repentance and faith. Living in this gospel requires churches to heed warnings, obey exhortations, and cherish encouragements. There are reasons for God-given warnings. First, Paul tells us people who persist in sin will be justly disciplined or punished. Corrective discipline is a part of the Christian life used to bring believers into conformity with Christ. Second, Paul continues writing, this is the way of Christ. While he and his ministry may appear to be weak, it is this very weakness through which Christ’s power is revealed. Christ’s arrest, trial, and death were not a sign of His weakness but were used powerfully by God. So Paul’s arrests, imprisonment, and apparent deference to others were being used to draw people to salvation. Finally, warnings ought to be seen as an unrequired act of kindness on God’s part. Reacting to warnings today prevents discipline tomorrow.

Paul exhorted the Corinthians. He challenged them to examine themselves, to test the veracity of their faith. Self-examination is an important activity. It is the way to see if we suffer from a false faith and, upon this discovery, sincerely turn to Christ. For real believers this self-examination reinvigorates the understanding that Jesus Christ is in them. Since Christ is in us we ought to emulate the way of Christ. Furthermore, since it was Paul that had originally evangelized the Corinthian church, if these people were in Christ it was Paul who guided them. They should, therefore, listen to his five exhortations; rejoice, aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, and live in peace. These are admonitions every church needs to obey to live in love and peace.

Lastly, a church needs to cherish encouragements. Paul’s prayers for the Corinthian church should provide encouragement, particularly as he prays believers would be strengthened in their walks so they will not need the discipline he has the apostolic authority to administer. Their restoration to the faith once for all delivered to the saints for which Paul prayed would give them the strength they needed to go on correctly for God. The assurance of fellowship was another encouragement Paul offered. This fellowship, which should have been present within the Corinthian church, extended far beyond Corinth. The Church of Jesus Christ is greater than any one local assembly of saints. Paul next offered a benediction to the Corinthians. He asked God for a three-fold blessing: the grace of our Lord Jesus Crist, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit.

This triune blessing, indicative of the Godhead’s Trinity is available to all who come to God through the blood shed on the Cross of Calvary by the Lord Jesus Christ.

Tom Ascol has served as a Pastor of Grace Baptist Church in Cape Coral, FL since 1986. Prior to moving to Florida he served as pastor and associate pastor of churches in Texas. He has a BS degree in sociology from Texas A&M University (1979) and has also earned the MDiv and PhD degrees from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Ft. Worth, Texas. He has served as an adjunct professor of theology for various colleges and seminaries, including Reformed Theological Seminary, the Covenant Baptist Theological Seminary, African Christian University, Copperbelt Ministerial College, and Reformed Baptist Seminary. He has also served as Visiting Professor at the Nicole Institute for Baptist Studies at Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando, Florida. Tom serves as the President of Founders Ministries and The Institute of Public Theology. He has edited the Founders Journal, a quarterly theological publication of Founders Ministries, and has written hundreds of articles for various journals and magazines. He has been a regular contributor to TableTalk, the monthly magazine of Ligonier Ministries. He has also edited and contributed to several books, including Dear Timothy: Letters on Pastoral Ministry, The Truth and Grace Memory Books for children and  Recovering the Gospel and Reformation of Churches. He is also the author of From the Protestant Reformation to the Southern Baptist ConventionTraditional Theology and the SBC and Strong and Courageous. Tom regularly preaches and lectures at various conferences throughout the United States and other countries. In addition he regularly contributes articles to the Founders website and hosts a weekly podcast called The Sword & The Trowel. He and his wife Donna have six children along with four sons-in-law and a daughter-in-law. They have sixteen grandchildren.
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