In His Letters to the Corinthians (continued)
"The Love of God" (continued)
The gospel is not just something to bring the sinner to the Saviour. It is that - but the gospel, the good tidings, is also this, that people, Christians like Corinthians, can be transformed like this through the love of God. Good tidings! The glory of the triumph comes following on here, in words that we love so much: 'Thanks be unto God, Who always leadeth us in triumph in Christ" (2 Corinthians 2:14), to celebrate His victory over Christ's enemies. This is the triumphal procession of grace and love. It is a different Paul, is it not? - a Paul different from the first letter. He has got the wind in his sails now, he is running before the wind, he is in triumph. He is talking about everything being a triumphal procession in Christ, a constant celebration of victory. What has made Paul change? Why, the change in them! Yes is was always like that with Paul; his life was bound up with the state of the Christians. 'Now I live as you stand fast' (1 Thess. 3:8). 'This is the life to me.'
"And the love of God". "God, that said, Light shall shine out of darkness ... shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the exceeding greatness of the power may be of God, and not from ourselves" (2 Corinthians 4:6, 7). 'We are poor creatures, Corinthians: I am, you are; but God has shined into our hearts. Something has been done in our hearts. The love of God has come in. Fragile vessels as we are in ourselves, that love shines forth - the glory of the love of God.'
"The Communion of the Holy Spirit"
"The communion [or fellowship] of the Holy Spirit". Did ever a people need to know the meaning of fellowship more than the Corinthians? Is Paul touching upon some spot that was a very, very sensitive spot? Fellowship? He wrote: "Each one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ" (1 Corinthians 1:12). Is there any fellowship in that, any communion in that? No. When you stay in the flesh, there is no fellowship, there is no communion; you are all in bits and pieces, all flying at one another. So it was. What is God after? Fellowship, communion, amongst believers; and it must be the communion, the fellowship, of the Holy Spirit, that is, fellowship constituted and established and enriched by the Holy Spirit. This is the result of "the grace of the Lord Jesus and the love of God" - oneness.
Let us clearly recognize that this is the deepest work of the Holy Spirit. Much has been said earlier, in Paul's first letter, about the Holy Spirit. They had made much of spiritual gifts; spiritual gifts attracted them. They were enamored of power to do things, of signs, wonders, and so on. That was very much after their heart; these gifts of the Spirit, and much more that was just outward, brought a great deal of gratification to their souls.
But when you come to the supreme end and deepest work of the Holy Spirit, you find it in the oneness of believers. It takes the deepest work of the Holy Spirit to bring that about, seeing that we still have a nature that is an old nature. We still can be Christians, and yet Corinthian Christians. There is still lurking - and not always in hidden corners - the "I", the self-life in some form or other. Seeing it is there, it takes a mighty work of the Holy Spirit to unite indissolubly even two believers; but to unite a whole church like that is something stupendous.
Nothing less or other than that is the communion, the fellowship, of the Holy Spirit. Something of that seems to have come about at Corinth. Oh, wonder of wonders, the difference between these two letters! Yes, it has happened. It is an inward triumph over nature, and it shows real progress. That is the communion of the Holy Spirit. When Paul started his first letter, he said: "When every one of you, says, I, I, I, are you not babes? Do you not have to be fed with milk?" (1 Corinthians 3:1-4). Babies are always scrapping and fighting. That was the Corinthians. But they had got past the babyhood stage, through "the grace of the Lord Jesus, and the love of God". Things changed; they have grown up.
(continued with # 13)